BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – When West Branch High School senior Courtney Papic walked into the locker room before her basketball game and didn’t see her uniform, she was confused.
She had missed a game before but thought she had an excused absence. The coach then told she had to sit out that game because of that prior absence.
Her reason for missing is why State Rep. John Boccieri, D-Poland, spoke at the high school on Thursday.
Courtney had been at a development and flight training course for the Air Force Reserve. The program prepares future Reservists for boot camp.
Her parents went to school administrators when Courtney told them why she had been benched.
“We started the lines of communications about the actions that happened, and we didn’t understand them and we didn’t agree with them,” said Courtney’s father, Scott Papic.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart said Courtney’s has since coach apologized and said he did not bench her as an act against her dedication to the military. He said the preparatory training is new for the military.
“It’s kind of a new program, so I’m going to tell you if the military is looking for people like Courtney, what they’re going to get is kids who are heavily involved,” Weingart said.
Boccieri has introduced legislation to protect students participating in extracurricular activities from facing negative consequences if they missed a meeting or practice for military service and preparation.
Courtney said she is happy to be helping students in her situation.
“So when other kids come up through, they don’t have to go through the same thing I went through,” she said.
Boccieri said if this legislation passes in the state of Ohio, he will try to push it at the federal level as well.