Washington student-athletes tested for drugs

Published 10:21 pm Sunday, January 6, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Those students who participate in sports at Washington High School got a bit of a surprise Thursday, one day after returning from holiday vacation.
Student-athletes said they were called to the auditorium for a short meeting. However, once there, they were told that they were all going to be tested for drugs.
It came as a surprise to students and coaches.
Jimmy Kozuch, Washington’s varsity boys and girls soccer coach, said while he agrees with testing student-athletes, he was stunned by the timing. He also hopes that if testing is going to be done, it won’t be limited to Beaufort County student-athletes.
Jamont Jones, a varsity football player for the Pam Pack, thought the timing was excellent.
The testing started in the morning and didn’t conclude until near the end of school. That meant some missed classes for several students.
Joe Lawrence, Washington’s varsity boys basketball coach, said testing the students randomly would work better.
While some students refused to take the test, which means an automatic 365-day suspension from athletics, others were in favor of it.
Dail, who is also the varsity boys basketball scorekeeper, said the timing of the testing was questionable.
Xenia Adonts, an exchange student from Germany who plans to play varsity soccer in the spring, said she spotted a few worried classmates in the auditorium.
Some students and coaches are all for testing to ensure drug-free schools.
Of course, others disagree with the testing.
The testing shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Student-athletes are asked to fill out a Beaufort County School District Student Athletic Commitment Contract.
Beaufort County Schools operate under a “Code of Student Conduct.” Student-athletes may be randomly tested for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and any other drugs the superintendent deems appropriate.
Beaufort County superintendent Dr. Jeffrey C. Moss couldn’t be reached by phone Saturday evening.
Under the contract, student-athletes agree to remain “chemically free from tobacco and its products, alcohol and drugs” and that the pledge “extends to seven days per week.”
The student-athlete who signs the contract agrees to “authorize the Beaufort County School District to conduct a urinalysis test for drugs and/or alcohol use” and “authorize the Beaufort County School District to conduct random drug testing during the current school year and subsequent years of high school.”
What confused some coaches and student-athletes was that the testing didn’t seem exactly “random.”
Davey Ann Burbage, who plays basketball, softball and tennis at WHS, questioned the timing of the testing.
Student-athletes who do take and fail the test will have to attend a substance abuse education and/or intervention program, which lasts approximately one month. In order to return to athletics, the student-athlete must complete the program and test negative on a subsequent drug test.
Kozuch is worried that some student-athletes who failed or didn’t take the test may give up on athletics all together.
Sport Sawyer, Washington’s varsity football coach, said student-athletes must adhere to strict guidelines by the school system and by the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
Sawyer said sometimes athletics is the only aspect a student-athlete can lean on in his teen years.