“Not being able to play, it’s weird,” said 13-year-old Tremayne Gandy Jr., who was suspended alongside his entire varsity football team in his little league football program because the teenager was promoted to high school due to his high academic abilities.
For Gandy Jr., football has been a fixture for him and his family for half his life, but a mere technicality has kicked him off his Glenwood Jaguars football team and it has cost the rest of his team a shot at the playoffs.
“We didn’t know as parents, him being ahead two years, was going to affect him playing football at this little, the little league level,” said Sylvia Gandy, Tremayne’s mother.
The issue is Gandy Jr. is a high school sophomore, and league rules prohibit high schoolers from playing.
“He was always a bright child, he started reading at the age of 2,” said Sylvia Gandy.
Sylvia Gandy says her son has always been advanced in school and was moved up two grade levels ahead of his peers, but that accomplishment worked against his ability to play in the Southwest Midget Football League, the league the Glenwood Jaguars are in.
A statement from the league president, Lenny Rhein, said the league’s insurance policy does not cover registered high school students regardless of age. The league also isolated the impact of the Glenwood Jaguars franchise suspension to just the varsity team Gandy Jr. plays on and reinstated all other teams part of the Jaguars for children of younger ages.
“I got a call from the Southwest Midget League President, and he asked was my son in high school. Of course, me being honest, I’m not going to lie, and I’m proud of him for his accomplishments, I said yes, and that’s when he went to explain to me, high schoolers aren’t allowed in our program,” said Tremayne Gandy Sr.
Tremayne Gandy Sr., says he does not agree with the league’s decision not only for the sake if his son, but also for other kids on his varsity team.
“You can’t do that to these kids, everyone has paid money, I’m talking about from registration to custom jerseys to cleats, mouthpieces, breast cancer awareness stuff, we’ve all paid our money and taken our time,” said Gandy Sr.
Since the initial ruling, the community in and around the Chicago suburb of Harvey, Illinois, where the Gandys live, has expressed its support.
“It’s been pretty upsetting for a lot of the kids, and I’ve seen a few kids quit and some of the parents have taken them out because what are they risking injury for if they can’t go to the playoffs,” said Gandy Jr.
Gandy has played football with the Glenwood Jaguars franchise since he was 5 years old, but if the 140-pound teenager wants to continue playing football, he must consider playing among his high school peers.
“He’s built like a 13-year-old, he’s not built like he’s a sophomore in high school,” said Gandy Sr.
“This team, it means a lot to me, they’re pretty much a part of my life, it’s all I’ve ever known,” said Gandy Jr.
Despite the athletic setback, within the next two years the gifted 13-year-old hopes to attend Michigan University to play football and study astronomy, aerospace, or meteorology.