ANDERSON CO., S.C. (WSPA) – The Wren High School boys’ soccer season is over after the South Carolina High School League said they had an ineligible player.
“It is heart wrenching. These boys have worked so hard and put in so many hours. For this to happen at the last hour,” said soccer mom Anna Steele.
The team was told this week, right before playoffs, that their season is done and every game they’ve played up to this point does not count.
“They’ve already missed a complete year because of COVID and then basically last year was an odd year also for quarantine and various reasons, and now for this to happen,” Steele said.
The issue is with one of Wren’s players, Ethan Gilstrap, who is dual enrolled as a junior at Anderson Christian School and an online school, Silicon Valley High School.
Last year, his mom, Kristi Gilstrap, said he got accepted to play soccer for Wren High School, because both Anderson Christian and Silicon Valley don’t have a competitive team.
In South Carolina High School League rules, a player who is homeschooled, goes to a charter school, a virtual school or governor’s school without the sports team of their choice, can play at the public school they’re zoned for.
The Gilstraps said they thought they were in the clear, until just days ago when the South Carolina High School League said otherwise.
Since Ethan also is enrolled in a private school, which is not stated in the by-laws, he was considered ineligible.
Parents with kids on the team said they’re furious with this decision.
“I mean I don’t even have words that can describe, that the time and effort and hour, and they’re going to have to pay for, whatever, I keep trying to describe it and I can’t come up with the proper words,” said Steele.
Wren High School sent a statement to 7News, taking the blame for the situation.
“Unfortunately, an error was made by the Athletic Department in the interpretation of eligibility requirements for charter school, home school, and private school students during the eligibility process for spring sports,” the statement said. “This was a simple mistake.”
Since Ethan will be staying at Anderson Christian School, he has also been told he can’t play soccer at the public high school level next year, which will be his senior year.
Kristi Gilstrap told 7News that she has been advised by a lawyer not to make an official comment.
7News reached out to the South Carolina High School League for a comment. There was no response as of this publication.