Are 19-Year-Old Seniors All That Common?

All the talk about Ryan Romo being almost 19 years old got me thinking about something that’s been nagging at me since I took this job a little more than four years ago. It’s this suburban legend about Park Cities families giving their sons a “redshirt” year (presumably before kindergarten) so they’ll be more mature as high school athletes.

I have no idea whether this actually goes on. To quantify it, you’d need the birth dates of all Highland Park High School students for a certain number of years, so you could compare the average ages of male and female graduates. Then, to figure out if this is truly a Park Cities phenomenon, you’d need the same data from a few nearby public high schools where sports aren’t emphasized nearly as much (Hillcrest and Woodrow, for example). It also wouldn’t hurt to compare the HP data to that of another football-crazed, single-high-school district — say, Southlake Carroll.

Now, I highly doubt I’d be able to obtain such data from HPISD or any other school districts. But there are several former Scots whose dates of birth are publicly available. Let’s take a look.

I found only one recent Highland Park athlete who was 19 for a significant portion of his senior year: McMurry quarterback Tyler Rentfro turned 19 last February, three months before he graduated.

Former Ohio State and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Anthony Schlegel turned 19 in March of his senior year (1999-2000). Former Mets pitcher Chris Young and Dartmouth lacrosse player Patrick Campbell both turned 19 in May of their senior years (1997-98 and 2010-11, respectively).

The rest of the players whose birth dates I was able to find all turned 19 after graduating from Highland Park:

Duke lacrosse player Chris Hipps turned 18 in September of his senior year (2009-10).

Rutgers lacrosse player Campbell Sode turned 18 in October of his senior year (2010-11).

Former Baylor and Pittsburgh Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda turned 18 in January of his senior year (2001-02).

Duke offensive lineman Tanner Stone turned 18 in March of his senior year (2011-12).

As for the biggest names on the market, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw turned 18 in February and March, respectively, of their senior year (2005-06).

So what does all of this tell us? Well, if those last two studs were able to achieve so much success while receiving their high school diplomas at the age of 18, it tells me I don’t need to wait until the 4-year-old athlete in my house turns 6 to enroll him in kindergarten.

By Dan Koller Nov. 5, 2012 | 7:53 am | 71 Comments | Comments RSS
  • IJS

    I see a lot of holdbacks, especially in private school. Hockaday has girls that voted this year as juniors. For boys (and girls), a lot of this is more social, meaning how well adjusted a child is. Not everyone can color in the lines or memorize that young. Parents making that call at age 4 or 5 are often dealing with learning difficulties, or even circumstances like divorce or death of a parent. I don’t know anyone who did a holdback for athletics.

    It’s pretty impossible to know if your child will be a standout in a sport when they have barely mastered toilet training.

  • wondering

    re: Old Man. Does he protest too much? Just kidding, Old Man. Live and let live. Life is short.

  • sammy

    @Old Man.
    Yes, I have kids and yes i get angry at those that try to game the system. Never knew anyone at HP who graduated in December so not sure about your hypothetical.
    Love the word “ilk” though as it says more than you will ever grasp. I like to play by the rules. Maybe in another 20 years 20 year olds will be seniors because it is best for their kids as you say. What a strange barrier “best for their kids” is.

  • Ps

    @sammy – wow! Have you ever missed a letter when you were typing. Your comment was cheap and childish

    Here IS a fact about making a decision about a child (boy or girl?) starting school – my son has dyslexia. My mother was suffering with cancer. My son has a mid-June birthday. As it turns out he’s a really good athlete (as much as can be told when a child is in middle school) but I can promise that his possible athleticism or lack thereof was never a consideration.
    @cp and @sammy do you know how hard classes in high school are these days? I guess we should “stick our heads on the sand” and set our kids up for failure or at least a very difficult trail? But you two clearly know better than actual parents of actual kids (sarcasm completely intended)

  • Ps

    @sammy – you want to grab a pencil so you can write down the initials of a whole bunch of kids who “graduated” in December? what they actually did was move on to college and “graduated” in May with their original classmates. Must be a plot to take over the 4A sports in Texas. What a master plan (sarcasm still intended)

  • Old Man

    @sammy –

    With all due respect, what irritates me about your response is the accusation that somehow we are gaming the system. Please explain to me how we are doing that. Are we doing anything illegal? How are we not playing by the rules? Should we ignore advice when a recommendation is made from teachers and doctors for my ADHD son that another year in school before first grade would be good for his maturation process?

    Come on sammy, you are painting me with that big broad generalization paintbrush – if you call me a cheat, then tell me why I am a cheater. We play by the rules. And I expect everyone else to do the same.

    If you are angry with me and my “ilk”, let’s set up a discussion – these blogs are the worst forums to discuss what is a very emotional issue.

  • Old Man

    @wondering

    I am very laid back in real life.
    I just don’t suffer fools gladly.

  • CP

    Thanks for continuing to maintain that athletics plays no part. It makes me feel vindicated for the fake liar comment earlier. I have do have boys and as recently as last year competed in the same district as HP. Our community plays by the rules and our boys are in the grades they should be in. We were all very sick and tired of having to play teams that were always 1 year ahead because you guys cheat.

    In response to Old Man’s weak argument about how would you know if your child were good at sports at 18, most parents have the ability to look ahead and guess that at every single grade their child would have an advantage over others.

    In response to the other comments that age plays no part in a child’s athletic ability I do not know how to respond to that. As many commentators have responded in reference to politics, it is hard to argue with today’s conservatives when you cannot even agree on simple realities. I have 2 sons and every single year they get better. My son actually dominates football at the 7th grade level, and I would be ashamed if I had held him back and put other kids’ safety at risk by playing him at the 6th grade level.

  • Sammy

    I am not talking about learning disabilities for holding one back. Anyone can point to the maturity factor for holding back but most do not. And summer hold backs have nothing on Romo as a November hold back. I have friends who held back Jan-April and questioned that but a November holdback? Just wow.
    Actual stats to back the redshirting story. From this article:
    http://www.babble.com/toddler/toddler-behavior-learning/redshirting-kindergarteners-age-kindergarten-readiness/

    “Recent studies done on kindergarten redshirting have shown that growing numbers of summer birthday boys are being held back a year before starting kindergarten, especially in white, affluent areas of the country. In Carroll, Texas, a wealthy south Dallas suburb, 158 of 452 kindergarteners were six at the start of the 2007-2008 school year, while 165 of 504 first graders were seven. In Highland Park, Texas, a small city within the city of Dallas, 96 of 452 kindergarteners were six, and 79 of 436 first graders were seven, or eight(!).

    Studies have shown two negatives regarding redshirting kindergarten boys. First, boys who are redshirted don’t perform any better than the average students of the class they join – in other words, they don’t perform as if they’re six, but instead perform like the other five-year-olds in their class. Also, boys who are held back tend to have more behavioral problems later on.”

  • Old Man

    @CP –

    Congrats on having a dominating seventh grade football player – I know you are very proud. Despite a rather confusing post above, I think this is what you are trying to tell me:

    1) you were right to call me a fake liar because I continue to say that athletics had nothing to do with our decision to hold our ADHD son back because you KNOW that athletics had everything to do with the decision.

    I ask again, please tell me what a fake liar is? Seriously, I am so confused with that term.

    2) HPISD cheats because some players were held back – which is perfectly legal under the rules. And whatever school district you are a part of has no one holding their children back. Why don’t you let me know what school district you are in and we can check that out.

    3) “In response to Old Man’s weak argument about how would you know if your child were good at sports at 18, most parents have the ability to look ahead and guess that at every single grade their child would have an advantage over others.”

    We will agree to disagree. I am very impressed with your scouting abilities if you can tell me twelve years out who are going to be the “stud athletes.” Maybe give Jerry and Stephen Jones a call and volunteer those services.

    Trust me, if you saw my kid, you wouldn’t be saying something like that.

    4)CP – I am still waiting for your answers from my post above about the logic behind your statutory rape statement – which is still one of the most outrageous things posted on here in a long time. Please give me your thoughts on your statement. I am dying to hear them.

    OM

    @sammy –

    I appreciate you taking the time to find a 2008 article about one woman’s decision making process whether or not to hold her son back. The studies she mentioned are not referenced – oh well. What you didn’t post here is the next sentence after the sentences you posted:

    “Let me stop and rewind a bit: I am not talking about children with learning problems or developmental delays. Kids with delays and learning problems are a different consideration altogether.”

    I will say this has been an interesting give and take.

    To sum it up, I have had two children go through HPISD. Both late Spring birthdays. The first we didn’t hold back and he went through without incident. Our second, who is ADHD, we did hold back, and it has worked out fine so far. He is far from a stud athlete and studies hard enough to make the grades necessary to try go to UT, his dream school. I am convinced he is in his right place.

    OM

  • IJS

    Okay, so for all the people thinking there are athletic holdbacks…what year did Romo repeat?

  • GoArmy

    @CP,

    You sound bitter.

    Did somebody pee in your social pool? What’s your beef with HP? Or are you tired of losing and feel vindicated by taking stabs at HP when tabloid fodder is reported?

    Families hold their children back for several reasons as mentioned above. It is not cheating if it is within the District Bylaws. Your argument lacks support.

    Oh, by the way, I have three children in HPISD. All three are spring / summer birthdays, were not held back and the oldest starts for his varsity team. The majority of his peers are similar in age.

    Get over it! Romo is the exception, not the norm.

  • CP

    GoArmy

    Or are you tired of losing and feel vindicated by taking stabs at HP when tabloid fodder is reported

    Wow. You managed to include 2 HP clichés into 1 sentence. HPers are arrogant and soft on rape

  • Neat

    @Sammy – OK you stated the two negatives with holding back boys. What about the flip side; what are the positives? State the whole argument and not just bits and pieces to make your argument sound better.

  • sammy

    @Old Man. I lead off with the fact that I am not speaking about learning disabilities for the reason some hold their boys back. My point is some can’t stand to have their kids average so they game the system to help their odds. I completely understand summer hold backs. Please let that sink in. What I have a problem with is Jan-April hold backs and what again sets me off is learning that Romo was a November hold back. Please don’t look at only your position(which was justified) but the others that are most assuredly gaming the system because, again, they can’t bear that their little Johnny is average or below average. I don’t believe it is athletic(as others have stated) but rather a belief that they can’t deal with average or below average kids, so they hold back without ADHD or dyslexia. The stats and 60 Minutes story from around 9 months ago on Dallas specifically speak for themselves even though you question an article from 2008.
    Please look at the larger picture- That rich kids without working mothers can keep their kids in(and pay for) prek for another year easier than a single working mother or two working parents from a less affluent school. But for those 4 people still reading this thread I graduated HP, have many friends with children at HP, and that is how I see it.

  • Parkie

    So if you hold your kid back because of learning/emotional issues, and he happens to grow to 6’5″, should you feel guilt or shame? Or consider having him skip a grade out of consideration for the other kids who are only 5’9″?
    Should we look at the athletic prowess of the parents (or lack there of) before holding back a child?

  • Old Man

    @sammy –

    I think we have about beat this to a pulp. I appreciate you keeping it on a civil basis and I hope you appreciate my position and can understand the frustration responding to the name calling and inaccuracies of many of the other posters.

    I will tell you our older son’s kindergarten teacher recommended that he be held back solely because of his birth date but we did not do that. I agree that holding back is not a cure all and I would hope that the reasons would be stronger than they don’t want their child to be average.

    Lastly, I was pointing out that the article you quoted from didn’t have references – I wish it had – I am not questioning the veracity of the stats quoted but it would have been nice to see the source.

    I hope we can close the book on this and respect each other’s position. Thanks.

    @CP – Please stop, you are embarrassing yourself. I will stop posting on this subject if you promise to do the same.

  • sammy

    @parkie. Way to stay on point. Argue the athletics when my point is intelligence or rather average to below intelligence.

  • wondering

    @IJS:
    Learning difference, transferred from Shelton in middle school, held back at that time. Change any minds?

  • XT

    So, riddle me this Batman:
    * I have 3 kids. I held one son back, but my daughter and other son stayed in their grade, and are in fact amongst the youngest in their class. Given some of your reasoning, I must have held my son back to get an advantage, whether academically or athletically. Then why wouldn’t I do it for all 3 of my children? Do I like my one son better?

  • Justin

    The problem is not the age, the academics, the athletics, the age requirements or the lack thereof. The problem is much more philosophical. For starters, there is the push to get rid of your children and put them in a public institution at the earliest age possible and to set them on a path toward graduation as if one size fits all. In addition, there is no way to make it where everyone is the same age unless you have 365 graduations per year. With only one per year, you are going to have 364 day discrepancies anyway. Furthermore, there is a false belief that equates “fairness” with “equality”. This is baloney. Personally, I would LIKE to have an older player on my son’s team if it’s going to make his team better. But maybe I’m the exception; maybe self-centeredness is better. Finally, there is the dependence on government in general and government schools in particular to somehow ignore statistical certainties and come up with a solution that defies logic. Then again, if anyone can do it, the government can. :-)

    Hey, I’ve got an idea…Why don’t we just change the rules of sports so there aren’t any losers and then everyone will be happy.

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