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Braintree AD Working on Appeal of MIAA Boys Gymnastics Decision

USA Gymnastics may write rules for the sport in Massachusetts for next year. The lack of rules was a main reason the MIAA said it would not sanction the sport.

Earlier this month, Braintree High School gymnast Nick Van Alfen was an individual award winner in the all-around competition at the MIAA Boys State Gymnastics Meet.

If a decision this January by the MIAA Board of Directors to drop the sport stands, next year there will be no championship for Braintree student athletes or those who compete for six other Massachusetts schools.

A lack of activity – the sport has lost dozens of participating schools in recent decades – and a decision by the National Federation of State High School Associations not to write rules for next year prompted the 10-2 vote by directors, an MIAA spokesman told the Boston Globe.

One of spokesman Paul Wetzel's comments, calling gymnastics a "girls sport," rallied a wide array of supporters, including Olympians Aly Raisman and Braintree High graduate Peter Kormann.

Also among those fighting the decision is Braintree Athletic Director Michael Denise, director of the state boys gymnastics tournament. He is working to convince USA Gymnastics, the sport's national governing body, to write the rules that the high school federation declined to prepare.

On Tuesday, Denise said he would speak with officials from USA Gymnastics by phone and then again in person when they visit Massachusetts next week for the 2013 American Cup in Worcester. They may then attend the MIAA board meeting next week.

There is no reason for the board not to reinstate the sport if the rules get written, Denise said. While few schools offer the program statewide, some 150 student athletes participate and administrative costs for the MIAA to run the championship are minimal, he added.

"We can give it one last effort," Denise said. "It's important to the kids."

The Braintree School Committee voted unanimously Monday night to support efforts keep the sport competitive, though Denise stressed that as long as there is enough interest, boys gymnastics will be offered at BHS next year.

Six of the seven schools that offered the sport this year have announced they will continue next year regardless of the MIAA's actions, Denise said. Boys gymnastics could continue as a club sport or a coaches association could organize competitions.

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