Senior Hannah Ratliff is an A&E Page Editor for the Shawnee Mission East Harbinger. This is her second semester on staff. She enjoys visiting new places, watching action movies and being with her dogs. Read Full »
But he knew this time was different.
This time, he knew it could mean something so much worse than no texting or not going out on Saturday nights. This time, it could mean no more football.
Though underage drinking is not a new problem to SM East, the recent spike in athletes with Minor in Possession (MIP) charges is causing administrative concern. According to Principal Karl Krawitz, there were 60 violations from SM East students last year, an outstanding difference compared to the other Shawnee Mission schools, who only had 30 MIPs combined. Dr. Krawitz also has reported seven MIPs received by East students in the past summer alone, all of them athletes. While many athletes are taking this problem lightly, it is already hitting many sports teams hard. Last year, according to Athletic Director Sam Brown, football, basketball, soccer, golf, cheerleading, swimming, wrestling, girl’s soccer, softball, tennis and track all had to suspend players for receiving MIPs.
“There’s probably not one [sport] that stands out,” Brown said. “I’m concerned about them all.”
For many athletes, being suspended from a sport only gives them more free time and less motivation to stay out of trouble, and many suspended athletes are beginning to challenge this issue with SM policy. Though for some athletes it only means more time to drink, some others use it as an opportunity to change. Sitomer now volunteers at Brighton Gardens, mows lawns and works at Meadowbrook Country Club in order to fill what used to be practice time with something productive.
Though Wendlandt was suspended and will not play on the varsity football team as planned, he still took Coach Sherman’s offer to remain involved with the team. He attends practices every day that he isn’t working at Waterway to pay for the lawyer his family has had to hire. He’s at every team dinner, in the locker room before every game. And he’s always sitting on the sidelines in the game jersey that Sherman allowed him to keep. Fortunately for suspended football players like Wendlandt, Coach Sherman encourages suspended athletes to remain a part of what may be the only positive in a player’s life. If a football team is a family, they have to keep all the members around even after mistakes are made.
Though teams with suspended athletes will never be the same regardless of how they handle it, teams like varsity football are trying to turn the situation into as much of a positive as possible.
“It’s just kind of one of those things that was just really unfortunate to happen, but it did,” Wendlandt said. “Usually, I’m pretty happy [while watching games]. I try to push through, you know, keep my head up, and try to have people respect me even though I messed up.”