May 26, 2006
One week after Nolan Jenkins, a lacrosse player at Albemarle High School, died in a car accident, his teammates announced Friday they were ending their season early.
The announcement came Friday afternoon, just hours before a scheduled 4 p.m. lacrosse game. The team said they no longer felt they were honoring the memory of their teammate.
"They got to the point where they felt like it was no longer bringing joy, or bringing the praise that they wanted to do in memory of Nolan," explained Deb Tyson, the school's Athletic Director. "In fact it was going the opposite direction."
The team met privately Friday, without adults. They later shared their decision with school administrators a short time later.
Charlie Trachta, the parent of an Albemarle High School student, said the team did the right thing, but that adults should have done something sooner.
"The boys showed that they're on that first step of being adult," said Trachta. "The problem is that some of the grownups around them, as in some of the school administration, did not act like adults."
Trachta spoke at Thursday night's school board meeting. He urged the board to further investigate the underage party that Jenkins attended just before his accident.
"The school board last night could have said to every student in Albemarle County, 'You drink, we're going to take separate action, and they didn't,'" said Trachta.
Trachta's son is an athlete, but he says by doing nothing, the school sent the message that it's okay for athletes to break the rules.
"We know there was a party. We knew that alcohol was served to underage kids, and in Albemarle County again, almost every year, we bury one of our teenagers because of underage drinking," he said.
The athletic department says the team made a difficult choice, and it that should silence any critics.
"They had our complete support to play today, to play tomorrow, to take it to the state championship," said Tyson. "So for these young men to put the Jenkins family ahead of that, tells you a little bit about the kind of character they have."
Critics have pointed to the school's honor code. It is signed by all athletes, and in it there is a promise not to drink.
However, the school said they had no way of knowing which students were at the party, apart from rumors circulating around school. They said they would not punish any student based on rumor alone.
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