For the first time in school history, the Northwest Yeshiva girls' volleyball team qualified for the state championships. But then came news the players feared most.
"The WIAA told us that they would not be able to accommodate our participation," Rabbi Benjy Owen said.
Player Ilana Greenberg said of the news, "Very disappointed. We were all crying."
Because the two-day tournament takes place during the Jewish Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Northwest Yeshiva High School, an orthodox school on Mercer Island, would have been forced to forfeit their second game.
Despite its best efforts, the WIAA, which oversees high school sports in the state of Washington, was unable to modify the schedule.
"This is a situation where we worked really hard -- and I think the school would tell you that, that we tried to work something out. And it just didn’t,” said Mike Colbrese, WIAA exective director.
You could call it a case of deja’ vu.
Two years ago, Greenberg was also on the Northwest Yeshiva girls' basketball team that was forced to forfeit its second game at the state tournament because it fell on a religious day of fasting. After refusing to modify the schedule, the WIAA office faced some heat then, too.
While the WIAA says it tried hard to find a solution, it might face similar heat over this move.
"The young ladies are just an unbelievable team. They have fought through tremendous adversity -- every time you watch a game, they never give up. They never say die," Owen said.
But despite the community support, they won’t have a chance to make even more school history this weekend.
"It’s a really tough situation because obviously these girls have worked hard," Colbrese said. "But there are 47 other teams whose teams have also worked hard. And in some cases, we have to make decisions that benefit what we believe is important … health of athletes is at stake."
Owen and Colbrese plan to meet in December to try to come up with a permanent solution to the scheduling problem so it doesn't happen again in the future.