Prom conflicting with high school athletics is nothing new.
In my 15 years at the Daily Post, I remember plenty of playoff games being rescheduled to accommodate one school's prom and most of those are shuffled around without a hitch. Some games are moved into the afternoon and cut it close with prom's start time.I've covered girls soccer playoff games where girls played with their hair already styled for prom. But I've never heard of a school just simply refusing to cooperate on moving a game for prom.
Mill Creek presented multiple options to Harrison for the teams' Class AAAAA quarterfinal girls soccer game because the Hawks' prom is scheduled for Saturday, the date set aside by the Georgia High School Association for the Elite Eight games.
But none of those options worked out because Harrison wouldn't budge on a start time.
Because it was Harrison's home game, the Hoyas stuck with a 5:30 p.m. start time Saturday and in the process destroyed the prom dreams of eight Mill Creek seniors, all of whom will likely play soccer at the expense of prom. Hawks girls soccer coach Brent Leitsch estimates that two-thirds of his players had dates to the 7 p.m. prom at Gwinnett Center.
"My daughter plays on the team and she's in tears," one Mill Creek parent said.
"I am appalled and disgusted that my child has to chose between prom and a playoff game, and so do the other girls," another parent said.
In the best case scenario, the Mill Creek players would leave Harrison around 7:30 p.m. Saturday for an hour-plus drive back to Gwinnett. Then they'd obviously have to get ready for prom. Pre-prom pictures, limo rides and dinner are out of the question.
Leitsch told his stunned team the news Thursday afternoon.
"It was not a happy group," Leitsch said. "No one's really happy, to be honest. We'll just have to make the best of it."
Mill Creek athletic director Gary Long credited Harrison principal Donnie Griggers for working hard to move the game around on Saturday, but the Hoyas had a contracted football jamboree Saturday morning followed by a state lacrosse match that the visiting school refused to move. So 5:30 p.m. was the best the Cobb County school could do.
But if Harrison tried hard, it didn't try hard enough.
Consider these options that Mill Creek offered, but Harrison refused:
--Playing Saturday at a nearby school in Cobb
--Playing Friday as a doubleheader with the Harrison boys team (apparently the Harrison girls coach was concerned his players were worn down from Wednesday's overtime game and didn't want to play Friday)
--Playing Monday, which still left 48 hours until Wednesday's semifinal round for the winner
--Playing at Mill Creek on Saturday, with Harrison getting all of the game's admission fees and concessions
All of those seemed like pretty fair options that would have helped out Mill Creek. But Harrison, which got its choice as the host team, chose to help itself instead.
"It's very unusual," Long said of the situation. "Historically, if there's a problem you can usually move the game around. But there was one obstacle after another that we couldn't overcome. ... All you can do at this point is be as positive as you can."
Hopefully the Harrison officials will take the next 24 hours and do the right thing. The kids and parents have poured a lot of money (for dresses, tuxedos, flowers and the like) to make senior prom a special memory.
Unfortunately, the folks at Harrison are doing their best to ruin it.
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His regular column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.