Oyster Bay H.S. student John Ottaunick deemed too old to play high school sports

An Oyster Bay High School senior has been told he cannot play football because he is too old.

John Ottaunick, 19, has played for his school football team since seventh grade. One week before practices were due to start, he received a call from his coach who notified him that he was too old to play.

John's father says the situation is just completely unfair and could have been avoided. Ottaunick was adopted from Siberia when he was 11. When he came to the United States, he was placed in the fourth grade - two years behind his peers.

According to a regulation put in place by the state education commissioner, students who turn 19 before July 1 are no longer allowed to play high school sports.

Robert Zayas, the executive director of the New York State Public High School Sports Athletic Association, says it's difficult to determine what a 19-year-old's skill, strength and development will be compared to younger students.

"I'm not that big, 5 feet 10 inches, 150 pounds...I'm not shooting for a scholarship," Ottaunick told News 12. He says he is disappointed and feels robbed of his last year of participating with his peers.

Zayas says he's seen about two dozen cases over the past two years of 19-year-olds appealing to the state to play high school sports. He says to his knowledge, not one of them was given a waiver.

John and his father say they will continue to fight.


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