Perhaps you’ve thought about what it would be like to revisit and relive your high school glory days, now that some years have past and you’re smarter and wiser and better at darn-near everything, including sports. Think about what you might be able to accomplish by way of a mulligan, with a few extra rings around the trunk, with more experience.
Think about it, don’t actually do it.
There have been books written and movies made with that theme, and it doesn’t always work out so well. How do you figure your personal trip back would go? If that age advantage gave you a competitive edge, it would also, maybe even in a theoretical sense, be a tad bit … creepy. Attempt to actually do it and … well, the creep factor, along with the risk, blasts into the ionosphere.
A fellow by the name of Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley allegedly took that fantasy or stupidity, whatever it is, and quite literally ran with the figurative/real ball. He bounced it, passed it, shot it, too.
Gilstrap-Portley is a 25-year-old man who, according to school district police in Dallas, posed as a 17-year-old freshman student, first enrolling at Skyline High School and later transferring to Hillcrest High, where he played on the basketball team this past season. The story goes, according to Texas officials, that he passed himself off as Rashun Richardson, a homeless refugee displaced by Hurricane Harvey who was trying to rebuild his athletic career and his life at the school.
It was a whopper of a charade.
School officials bought it, though, allowing the full-grown adult to attend school and compete. According to reports, federal law required the Dallas Independent School District to accept students displaced by Harvey without requiring documentation that might have been lost due to the ravages of the storm.
“He took that as an opportunity to gain access to our schools,” Robyn Harris, a spokeswoman for the school district told the Dallas Morning News. “He was fairly savvy to be able to utilize that type of position, knowing we were accepting Harvey students.”
Nobody at the Utah High School Activities Association could recall any significantly older student trying to pull off such a drastic move around here. Assistant director Jon Oglesby said, “It’s pretty militant how we enforce the age rule.”
Said executive director Rob Cuff: “I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I’ve never heard of it here in Utah. We’ve had some people who have tried to appeal the age rule, which is if you turn 19 prior to Sept. 1, then you’re ineligible for that school year.”
But nothing like what happened in Texas.
As it turned out, a basketball coach for another high school, Phillip Randall, had not spotted Gilstrap-Portley, but was told about him by an informant and he subsequently tipped off Hillcrest High. Randall had coached the kid, now the man, when he was in high school seven years ago at North Mesquite High.
“He was an average player and a good kid,” Randall told NBC DFW. “I’m surprised.” Randall told the Morning News: “I never had any problems out of him. That’s why I was shocked when I heard that all this came out because that’s not the kid I knew.”
Officials said Richardson looked pretty much the same as the other, much younger players, although, at times, he acted more mature. His appearance, by itself, did not give him away — until someone recognized him.
Coaches voted Richardson as the District 11-5A offensive player of the year.
And why wouldn’t he have been? He had played college basketball at Dallas Christian College, the Morning News reported. High school competition was a bit more accommodating.
Gilstrap-Portley took his ruse beyond just playing ball, however. And this is where a mildly humorous tale gets more frightening. He also dated a 14-year-old girl, a student at the school whose mother was understandably troubled that administrators allowed him in.
“I’m upset, frustrated, angry and sad at the same time,” the mother told the Morning News. “If it’s happening at Hillcrest, then it could be happening somewhere else. People need to know. It could have gone differently if he had other intentions.”
Gilstrap-Portley, the paper reported, has a child.
His attempt to restart his athletic career — and to relive past glory — came to a difficult end when police arrested Gilstrap-Portley, with him facing charges of tampering with government records. He was jailed before bonding out.
Moral of the story: Think and wonder all you want about what it would be like to return to those high school days. And leave it at that.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.