When Lake Howell (Fla.) High's softball team learned that its Class 7A regional semifinal playoff game against Winter Springs (Fla.) High had been scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, the team knew it was in trouble. Of all the days to have a 7 p.m. start, Friday was the one date that conflicted with the school's prom, meaning that juniors and seniors who had planned on attending the prom would have to choose between dancing with their classmates or playing to get a big step closer to a state berth.
To try and avoid that heart-wrenching conflict, Lake Howell administrators quickly reached out to Winter Springs and explained the issue, with the aim of moving the game to a different date or moving up the start time of the game.
As reported in detail by the Orlando Sentinel, technically Lake Howell succeeded in improving the time of the game, but only got the face-off moved up to 6 p.m. from 7. That adjusted time means that the Lake Howell players will almost certainly still be playing softball when the prom begins, and some affiliated with the Lake Howell program deem the compromise the two schools came to as not nearly enough of an effort to accommodate the players.
For their part, Winter Springs officials said that the motivating factor behind refusing to move the game to 4 p.m. -- as Lake Howell had requested -- were driven by the school's desire to allow parents to get to the game, while also noting that weather conditions at 4 p.m. could also have complicated the competition, despite the fact that a handful of softball games in the state are played at that time throughout the year.
"They had asked to move it up to 4 p.m., but we have parents and I am sure they have parents too, who would not be able to make it," Winter Springs athletic director Ted Jones told the Sentinel. "I understand. I would be upset if I was a parent and had bought a prom gown for my daughter. That is why it was moved up to 6. That way the girls can play the game and still have time to get to the prom.
"It isn't a great situation for either team because the sun will be in the player's eyes at that time."
That sun-based concern may be valid, but the game clearly presents a much more complicated scenario for Lake Howell players, who now will be forced to travel to Winter Springs with their season on the line and prom on the minds, then hope for a rapid finish to the game just so they can drive back to Lake Howell and maybe sneak in part of the prom … if they're lucky.
"Some people might look at it as though Winter Springs isn't trying to budge," Lake Howell athletic director Danya Harris told the Sentinel. "But we look at it as a mutual agreement. In a perfect world we would like it if it was a different date, but considering the circumstances, that wasn't really possible."