Through the first 19 games of the Texas high school volleyball season, few players, if any, could compare to Bowie (Texas) High star Andrea Estrada. The 16-year-old Columbian import has been a one-girl dynamo, leading Wichita Falls to a 20-4 record and dreams of a district title.
In fact, Bowie was even better than that when Estrada was on the court: The Rabbits were 19-0 with Estrada on board. Now, the team officially stands at 1-4 after Estrada was deemed ineligible by Texas' University Interscholastic League following an investigation into Estrada's past with the Columbian national team.
According to the Wichita Falls Times Record, a future opposing team provided video it had dug up of Estrada competing for the Columbian national team against Brazil in a South American tournament. Despite Bowie coach Jeanie Stark's protestations that the then 14-year-old only competed sparingly in one game at the tournament, UIL decided that Estrada should not have been made eligible, forcing the Rabbits to voluntarily void their victories in which she competed earlier this season.
"I know it's easier for the UIL to say no to her than to take on a whole bunch of battles down the line," Stark told the Times Record. "It protects them, and it protects us coaches, too.
"The only thing worse than not ever knowing this young lady is to by chance have gotten to know her and love her and have her purposely taken away."
The loss of Estrada almost surely ends Bowie's district and state title hopes, and gives the Rabbits no time to adjust for her absence. Worse, it takes away an integral part of a growing and improving program while she can still help a team and forge long lasting friendships, the very point of foreign exchange programs.
Now that won't happen, even though both Estrada and her coach clearly want her to remain a part of the Bowie program.
"Why? I want to play for you, my team," Estrada reportedly told Stark when informed that she had been ruled ineligible. "I want to play for Bowie."