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"I can only persuade them so much, because it's their decision and their life. Whether I like their decision or not, I'll be supportive of it."
"Both of these kids have done things the right way, through hard work and studying," athletic director David Ritchey said.
Both Yates and Martinez have been standouts in other sports. Martinez was a first team guard in basketball, advanced to the regional tennis meet in mixed doubles with Santanna Astleford and played on Clyde's district championship football team. Yates was an all Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre Watch Big Country guard in basketball.
Martinez and Yates remain undecided and will take the weekend to think it over before coming to a decision when track practice resumes Monday.
This would be the first trip to the state meet for Martinez, who along with Devin Boren, Will Graham and Karrson Strohl finished second at the Region I 2A meet. The Bulldogs' qualifying time of 1:29.89 ranks third among state qualifiers, meaning they have an excellent chance to win a medal in Austin.
It is precisely the type of conflict that the UIL works to avoid, and forces Martinez and Yates into a decision no administrator ever wants a student athlete to make. Two once in a lifetime opportunities have collided on the same day, with both teenagers, their teammates, coaches and families all caught in the middle.
The UIL will conduct a graduation ceremony in Austin for those who are missing their commencements at home. But in Yates' view, this is no substitute for graduating with lifelong friends.
Following the University Interscholastic League's rescheduling of the state meet due to the swine flu scare, the event now directly conflicts with multiple commencement ceremonies across the state. June 5 at the Abilene Civic Center roughly 30 minutes before two relay teams are scheduled to compete in Austin.
One concession which cannot be made, however, is the rescheduling of the graduation ceremony. With more than 100 other students scheduled to graduate, many of whom have family and friends traveling to the event, a late scheduling change wasn't possible.
"This is the toughest decision, by far, that I've ever had to make," said Yates, who will attend TCU as a business major. "These are two really big things happening in my life at the same time.
However, the time of 1:44.99 which she, Jennifer Portlock, Amy Withrow and Torie Lewis produced in Odessa is the fastest 800 relay time of all state qualifiers. In other words, the Lady Bulldogs are gold medal favorites making this the chance of a lifetime for Yates as well.
track coach Jarrett Vickers said, agreeing with Ritchey but admitting he Omega Watch With Leather Strap
Yates was named the salutatorian, and five of Clyde's eight relay runners are set to graduate with honors.
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Yates, on the other hand, has competed twice at the state meet as a sophomore and as a junior, but never medaled.
In the case of Martinez, earning valedictorian was less a goal than it was a mission.
"It's not every day that you graduate from high school and I've been looking forward to this forever. But then again, I've worked hard in track and we've worked hard as a team. We've got the best time going in, and (athletics) is a big deal in Clyde."
To make matters worse, Martinez recently was named valedictorian a title he pursued relentlessly. Omega Seamaster Racing
"I sat both of them down and gave them every fact I could possible give them. I told them whatever they choose, they'd have my support. To me this a 100 percent kid mom dad decision."
"I've never seen a family so happy on one end, and so heartbroken on the other," Clyde principal Terry Phillips said. "In a way, it's a good problem to have because we're talking about achievement.
He is openly ecstatic that his relay teams have qualified for Austin, and is hoping to see both of them there, intact.
"If we didn't have a chance, it would make my decision very easy," said Martinez, who says he doesn't feel pressured by his teammates to go to state. "But we have chance to get a medal, which is something I can never do again."
Several ways to accommodate the teens have been discussed by faculty members, including videotaping their commencement speeches and playing them for their classmates during graduation. A live video feed from Austin to Clyde also is being discussed, depending on availability and the decisions made by each athlete.
"Academics has always been what I was really aiming at," he said. "I'm going to be better known for academics than athletics, because athletics will only get me to a certain point.
"But I know whatever decision I make, I'm going to regret it, no matter what. Twenty years from now, I'll have to tell my kids 'I didn't go to graduation or I didn't go to state,' and that scares me."
"But they've spent 12 years working on one of these goals."
Heading to Baylor University, where he will major in child and family studies as a pre med student, Martinez has wanted to deliver a speech at Clyde's graduation for as long as he can remember.
"Part of my job as head track coach is to try to persuade them to (go to state)," he said. "Of course, that's with the understanding that this is high school graduation and one of the biggest things in their lives.
CLYDE Once in a great while, every planet in the solar system aligns with the sun to form a straight line. It is a highly infrequent occurrence so infrequent it is often seen as an ominous sign. Martinez and Emily Yates can relate to this analogy. Both qualified for the state track meet in the 800 relay during Wednesday's Region I 2A meet in Odessa Martinez with the boys; Yates with the girls. Now, each is facing dilemma which few people envisioned.
the decision of a lifetime
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