Deaf high school student, 19, just wants to play sports

If you were to tell football and baseball player, Dante Washington, that he is ineligible to play high school sports during his senior year, he wouldn't hear you because he’s deaf, and that is where his story begins.

In primary school, Dante was in the Paterson School District but transferred to the Bergen County Special Services School for the hearing impaired.  

He repeated second and third grades, which is why he is not allowed on the field, his age, not the fact he can't hear.

Athletically, he played for Hackensack High School. Football, baseball, track, you name it, he has done it for the first three years of school.

But because he was held back in elementary school, he just had his 19th birthday, which makes him ineligible according to New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association rules.

The rules are intended to prevent more physically developed players, being older, from gaining an advantage.  

Dante explained why he feels like this is unfair to him.

"It's not fair because I've been playing sports every year and it is not fair that I cannot play my senior year," he said

At the NJSIAA headquarters in Robbinsville, NJ, Assistant Director Larry White spoke about the rule that’s in place.

He said they have talked to Hackensack High regarding a waiver for extenuating circumstances that, if filed, will be reviewed on Aug. 13 for approval or denial.

White also mentioned that the board usually makes the right call and he has a good feeling about this one.

Dante is a fantastic kid, and it's remarkable that he will finish high school at age 19, not being able to hear at all.  

He is dedicated to sports, school, and plans to attend college after his senior year.
 

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