Struthers to drug test athletes

Something that has been discussed at McDonald High School for a few years is actually being implemented at Struthers.

The Struthers Board of Education passed a mandatory drug test policy for its student-athletes on Tuesday night. Any student in grades seven through 12 wishing to participate in athletics or cheerleading must now submit to a drug test. This will take effect at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

Students who refuse to take the drug test at the beginning of the season will be banned from competition.

“That’s pretty strict,” McDonald football coach and athletic director Dan Williams said. “We’ve always talked about it; there’s nothing wrong with drug testing. Expense was always the factor for us.”

In Struthers, however, students (or parents) will foot the bill for these tests. According to Tribune Chronicle news partner WYTV Channel 33, the cost is $20 for the first sport and $10 for the second, with a cap of $30 per athlete. Athletes will face mandatory testing once per year and random tests, potentially, throughout the year.

Attempts to reach Struthers administrators were unsuccessful.

“It’s a great thing,” Williams said. “But that’s almost like a pay-to-play policy.”

In Youngstown, talks of a similar drug policy have yet to gain legs, according to Ursuline AD Sean Durkin.

“It’s not really our call, anyway,” Durkin said. “That’s up to to the Bishop to mandate or (Diocesan athletic director) Randy Rair.

“Certainly, it’s what we’re hoping for out of our student athletes. I don’t see who would be against it.”

Great Lakes Biomedical will handle the testing in Struthers.

“The main thing is when someone is when someone is offered an illegal substance that they have a better opportunity to say, ‘No, I get tested I can’t do this.'” Kyle Prueter, President of Great Lakes Biomedical, told WYTV Channel 33.

That’s a plan that Williams trusts in his Blue Devils.

“The kids like to to be held accountable,” he said. “Kids are doing things the right way and they want to be part of the team. It’s important and brings a team closer together so they respond in a positive way.

“They want to see teammates performing at their best. You hope that’s being policed with seniors, juniors and captains on our teams. You still get your kids that experiment, but majority of kids don’t want that in the program.”

Warren G. Harding football coach Steve Arnold would be on board if drug testing was implemented in the school district.

“If it was a possibility brought up by our school board,” Arnold said, “we’d have to abide by it.”

One new policy, for all school districts, in the upcoming school year is to make students and parents read literature on the danger and impact of concussions in sports. Both parties must sign off in order for a kid to play sports.