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While their classmates walk across the stage together at William & Mary Hall during Grafton High’s graduation ceremony Friday, the seniors on the Clippers softball team will be receiving their diplomas on the campus of Liberty University.
With the Grafton softball team qualified for the Virginia High School League Group 4A Softball Championships, some Grafton seniors will skip their formal graduation and instead receive their diplomas during ceremony either before or after Grafton’s opening game against Woodgrove on Friday.
The decision for high school athletes competing in state competition to graduate at their respective sporting events is not a new phenomenon, but it is a decision that some do not take lightly.
Grafton Coach Vanessa Young said three of her four seniors are committed to graduating at Liberty University so they can play in the state tournament.
For the currently undecided player, choosing where to graduate seems like an either-or proposition since the graduation begins at 9 a.m. at William & Mary Hall and the scheduled first-pitch is noon at Liberty University.
For Christa Hall, one of Grafton’s seniors committed to graduating on the softball field, the choice of where to graduate was a no-brainer.
“I really didn’t even have to think about it,” she said. “I was completely fine with graduating on the softball field. It was something different than most other people do.”
Hall said the opportunity to play in the state tournament with the chance to win was worth trying for rather than attending a larger graduation ceremony back home. The chance to graduate with a small group of friends Hall has known since she was a child seemed like the perfect way to wrap up her high school career.
Though Hall and the other Grafton softball seniors will not be graduating with their peers, they do plan to celebrate while in Lynchburg for the state tournament.
“I think Thursday night we are going to go out to dinner,” Hall said. “On Friday, after we graduate, we will have cake after the game – hopefully after a victory.”