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Paly Girls Lacrosse Forfeits Six Wins

Strange circumstances lead to major setback.

It may sound a bit off for a team that is outscoring their opponents 160 to 104 to have a record of 3-7. Usually, when a team scores more, it means they win more and have a winning record. And the Palo Alto High School varsity girls lacrosse team did have a winning record, up until last week, when the Lady Vikes had to forfeit six of their wins after it was discovered that the games had been won with an ineligible player on the field.

On April 19, the Lady Vikes had a 88.8 winning percentage. The next day, after defeating crosstown rivals Henry M. Gunn High School 10-8, the teams wins had fallen to 30 percent.

“There was a [Central Coast Section] technicality and we were forced to forfeit the six league games that I had played in,” Julia Farino, a Paly junior who transferred from Menlo-Atherton High School about three months ago, said. “Because I transferred mid-year, there was paperwork that had to be done for CCS so that I was eligible to play.”

Farino’s ineligibility was discovered by another team and brought to the attention of Paly Principal Phil Winston and Athletic Supervisor Earl Hansen. Paly chose to inform CCS of the ineligibility because had they not, the team could have been at risk of being on probation, meaning they would not be able to compete during the 2012-2013 season.

"Last week Palo Alto High School informed our office that, in accordance with CIF and CCS rules, they would be forfeiting some lacrosse games because they discovered that one of their players was ineligible,” CCS Administrator Steve Filios told Palo Alto Online.

What exactly led to the missing paperwork is unclear. Hansen said he was unaware Farino was a new student and therefore did not know she needed additional paperwork. Winston did not require Farino to fill out the required paperwork when she filled out her other transfer forms because he had no way of knowing she planned to play a sport.

"We have so few students coming in the middle of the year who want to play sports that...we just dropped it,” Winston said on April 24, at a meeting with about the situation.

Girls lacrosse coach Jamie Nesbitt has yet to clarify whether she was aware of the additional paperwork or asked Farino to compete it. She was unavailable to comment.

According to Farino however, she had no knowledge of the needed papers.

“I was unaware of the paperwork because I had been told both at [Menlo Atherton] and Paly that there was none and I would be okay to play,” Farino said. “There was a lot of miscommunication going on.”

These forfeits are not the first time a Paly team has had to give up wins due to a technicality involving a transfer student.

In 2007, the varsity boys basketball team’s record was changed from 17-8 to 16-9 after it was found that Ed Hall, a mid-year transfer student, was ineligible. Despite the forfeits, the administration did not change their transfer policy.  

At the April 24 meeting, parents, players and members of the administration erupted into discussion to find out all the facts of the situation and discuss the importance of finally changing the transfer process.

“I’m working on a form with the Guidance office that would require incoming students to indicate if they are interested in playing sports at Paly so we can get them the paperwork needed [to be eligible],” Laurence said. “We are also planning on going through Teacher Advisors and re-training coaches so that there are more places to make sure we have this checked so that this doesn’t happen again.”

In the meantime, the Lady Vikes are looking to the future and trying to overcome the unexpected disappearance of wins.

“The team was very upset that we had to forfeit the wins that we worked so hard for, but we are a family and are going to get through this together,” Farino said.

The team has two league games remaining (they have won two in the past week) and a winning both would mean they would still be able to compete in the upcoming Santa Clara Valley Athletic League playoffs.

“It's not easy when you find out your wins are getting taken away from you, but we are going to pick ourselves up and focus on winning the last few games of our season,” Farino said. “This is a tough time for us, but we are taking it day by day.”

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