Hershey High School
v. Angie Saterstad


Angie Saterstad

HERSHEY PA 10/11/02 -- The possible sale of the Hershey Company is not the only bittersweet controversy in this company town this year. Hershey High School senior Angie Saterstad, who spent her summer winning the USATF Junior Olympics 3000 meters (10:26.84) and vacationing in Ocean City with her parents, is being barred from the school's cross country team because she missed a few pre-season practices in August.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported (Running Into an Ugly Mess, 10/11/02) that the issue is headed for the courts or the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Angie told the Inquirer that she was not aware of the practices. The Inquirer said two other runners missed the practices and were suspended for two meets, but the school is blocking Saterstad from joining the team at all.

The story spurred comments on the Internet mailing list called t-and-f, as extracted below.

Ed Grant, New Jersey track writer, announcer, and historian


The Pennsylvania case sounds at this slight
distance across the Delaware as a case of a clash of egos. It is always
possible that more is involved than was contained in the Inquirer story,
but, on the surface, it does appear as "much ado about nothing."

One would think that the coaches would be happy to have a talented
runner who trains year-around and is always in shape. What she does during
the summer as far as competition is concerned is really none of their
business, something school people on all levels seem to have a hard time

Coaches can ask their runners to eschew off-season competition, but
that's about all they can do, legally. The talk of bringing the PIAA into
this case is sheer nonsense; a civil court (while unfortunate) would be
another matter.

I did not like that part of the story which seemed to say that the
school was "worried" about have an ineligible runner on their team after her
transfer last year. When are these people going to realize that it is, oince
again, none of their business where a student attends school--the US Supreme
Court long ago made it clear that this is a parental choice. The "athletic
advantage" rule, if it ever got that far, would last about five minutes. It
is not only unconstituional, it is revolting.

As a judge said to the PIAA in another Pennsylvania matter
several years ago, in effect: "Prove to me that the school recruited the
athlete and I'll listen to you; otherwise, shut up."
Just because high school associations lack the funds to establish an
athletic FBI of the type the NCAA has does not give them any license to pass
rules that deny students their right---yes, my dear folks, it is a right,
not a privilege---to try to make their school's athletic teams.

The usual penalty for missing a practice or two is suspension from
the next competition and a requirement of daily attendance if the suspension
is to be lifted. Practices in individual sports held before the day school
starts should be voluntary anyway, particularly if they clash with family
vacation times. (Team sports are another matter, but cross-country is not
essentially a team sport; the absence of one runner does not affect the
training progress of her teammates the way an absent football player might)

I can't recall a case of this kind in my long time observing sports
in NJ. The only thing CC coaches worry about is whether their charges do
some summer running and report if fairly good condition. Obviously, this
girl did that.

Ed Grant .

Ed Parrott

Without passing judgement on the attendance requirement for the day before
an event, if a team does have this rule then the student needs to abide by
it or face the consequences. Team rules are an important part of high
school sports, even in individual sports. Teaching kids that there are
consequences for violating the rules is very important, even rules that they
don't agree with.

- Ed Parrot

Fred Duckett

Ed Grant is absolutely right. What are coaches for -
hard-nosed policemen, or educators adding their area of
teaching to the youngsters in their care. This is
certainly a major case of ego and stupidity - yes
stupidity!!. The young people do not have to put up
with ridiculous rules like these, and if they did, an
appropriate penalty might be found. These
concrete-heads on the Hershey staff are merely put-out
because they are faced with the accomplished fact that
they have a runner who does not need them. I wish
that at the small school where I help coach that we
could find a talent of this strength.

J. Fred Duckett, Houston, Texas


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