After a couple years of high school, Andrew Towle came into his own like most kids do. The youngster found himself a new sport, and never looked back. The 19-year old track star is now facing never being able to run again in scholastic competition, however, and it has nothing to do with the disability he’s courageously overcome to get where he is, but simply the city he lives in.
Recently, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations, which controls the Ottawa Technical Learning Center’s athletic teams that he had participated on, has ruled Towle ineligible because he is 19 and has been in high school for too many years. Towle now faces another battle on top of the fight again autism that he endures everyday, and an unjust one at that. Unlike other athletes restricted by age, Towle has not used up his four years of eligibility, and didn’t take any high school courses while enrolled for the 2005-2006 school year. But apparently, none of that matters.
The saddest part about the whole story is not just that the autistic youngster will now have to go through school without the support system of track that he’s relied on for so long. Instead, it’s the fact that while on the track team, Towle’s academic success has also peaked, landing Towle a spot on the honor roll. Now, Towle will be expected to finish his high school career without the track team that he’s come to love, even though the OFSAA does have the right to review the situation on a case by case basis and could easily make an exception for a kid who’s already had a hard run of it all. They’re refusing, though, standing fast up again the poor kid so as not to set a “precedent” inviting other children with disabilities to try the same thing.
I don’t think this is the last we will be hearing about Andrew Towle and his struggle against developmental disabilities, but it does give us reason enough to despise the OFSAA. Congratulations guys for not only stealing a young boy’s dream, but discouraging numerous children with developmental disabilities from trying new things simply because it doesn’t occur to them to do so in the right time frame. You all should be ashamed of yourselves for such an embarrassing display of stubbornness. Let the kid run!