Daily photos by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Jeremy Guyse picks up balls he has thrown to a homemade catcher at his Southwest Decatur home. Despite being an all-star youth league baseball player, Jeremy, 15, is home-schooled and is not allowed to participate in public school sports programs.
The Guyse family wants Legislature to provide equal access to public school programs
By Michael Wetzel
Southwest Decatur baseball player Jeremy Guyse has a fastball like mash potatoes, and his youth league coaches say he fields a good glove at first base.
A youth league all-star, 15-year-old Jeremy ought to be excited about playing baseball for Austin High. There’s only one problem, however — the Alabama High School Athletic Association won’t allow him to do so. He doesn’t attend Austin or any public or private school.
Jeremy is home-schooled, and Alabama is not one of the 16 states that allow home-schoolers to participate in public school sports.
ESPN will examine the issue of home-schooled children playing for public schools Sunday on its “Outside the Lines” program at 8:30 a.m., and the network has included interviews with Jeremy and his family. The program will air again at 11 a.m. on ESPNNEWS.
Jeremy and his older brother Zach, 18, are taught by their mother Marcia, a former English teacher at West Morgan High. Some classes, such as physics, are taught by outside instructors, the family said. Zach also takes some dual-credit math and English courses at Calhoun Community College, according to his dad, Tim Guyse.
For their son to play at Austin High with his friends and neighbors, Tim and Marcia Guyse must enroll Jeremy there or persuade the state lawmakers to change the law.
Tim Guyse said his family has chosen to continue home-schooling Jeremy.
“It’s all about politics,” Guyse said. “The Alabama High School Athletic Association can change the rule. It seems like it is a simple process. But we have some in the Legislature who are looking at changing the law.”
While Guyse admitted there are “not very many working with us” on this issue, he has the support of State Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, and State Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo.
They sponsored bills in Montgomery last session to allow equal access to home-schooled or private-school students to participate in extracurricular activities offered by public schools.
Rep. Galliher has sponsored House Bill 20, and Sen. Erwin has sponsored Senate Bill 312. Both are called the “Tim Tebow Bill.”
Former West Morgan High English teacher Marcia Guyse goes over lessons with her 15-year-old son, Jeremy.
Tebow is a freshman quarterback at the University of Florida, who was home-schooled, but allowed to participate in public school athletics under Florida law.
The Alabama version of the bill failed to get out of committee April 6.
The timtebowbill.com Web site says the bill is “being revised in response to concerns of the House Education Committee.”
The Daily’s telephone calls Saturday afternoon to the homes of Sen. Erwin and Rep. Galliher went unanswered.
Guyse and his sons also have given talks before the House and Senate education committee hearings at the Capitol.
For “Outside the Lines,” Tim Guyse, said a four-person production crew came to his family’s Southwest Decatur home Nov. 9-11 to film a segment of the show.
“They pretty much spent the time with us following our boys around in their daily routine,” Guyse said.
He said the crew even filmed at the home of Michelle West, the boys’ piano teacher.
Even though Austin High baseball coach Alan Watkins said he hasn’t seen Jeremy play, he added that he has heard good things about his skills.
“I heard he’s a good player,” Watkins said. “And I’d love for all the kids who want to play ball to be able to do so, but it’s their choice to be home-schooled and the participation rules don’t allow it.”
Covenant Christian Academy in Huntsville is a private school with a strong sports program that accepts home-schooled students. Tim Guyse said the family may take that avenue.
He said he realizes that if Jeremy is good enough on the field, he’ll get noticed, regardless if it is at Austin, Covenant Christian or American Legion baseball.
“He may play at Covenant Christian,” Tim Guyse said. “Our contention is it is 35 miles away. We live in Decatur. This is our community.”
In the meantime, the Guyse family plans to fight for a law change.
“But I don’t know if it will happen in my kid’s tenure,” Tim Guyse said. “We certainly hope so.”
‘Outside the Lines’
What: The Guyse family of Decatur is expected to be part of the ESPN program examining the issue of homeschooled children playing sports for public schools.
When: Sunday, 8:30 a.m. on ESPN and 11 a.m. on ESPNNEWS.
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