Prep athlete reaches pact with state high school league

Standout wheelchair athlete Rose Hollerman has settled her legal dispute with the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). The settlement was announced in late May. In the lawsuit Hollerman, a Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School sophomore and Courage Center basketball star, asked that wheelchair athletes be allowed to race alongside other track and field athletes where there is only one wheel-chair racer; score team points and participate in the same number of track and field events as other athletes.

Hollerman worked with the Minnesota Disability Law Center on the court case. They filed suit in December 2011 in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District. In the lawsuit she alleged discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Changes were approved by the MSHSL Board in February and entered as a court settlement this spring.

With the settlement, changes are in place to how wheelchair athletes compete alongside able-bodied athletes. Six track and field events for wheelchair athletes were offered at the 2012 state meet, which was June 8-9 at Hamline University in St. Paul.

The approved changes were created to accommodate a single athlete in the wheelchair division so he or she didn’t have to compete alone in races. In the event a single wheelchair athlete competes in a race with able-bodied runners, buffers will be placed on the track to ensure safety. If more than one wheelchair athlete is in a race, they compete in their own division. The rules apply to the 100-meter, 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races.

In field events of the shot put and discus throws, wheelchair athletes will be in the same flights as other athletes. Also, there will be team scoring opportunities for athletes in the wheelchair division.

Hollerman is a prominent wheelchair athlete at the state, national, and international levels. She was a member of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Basketball team that won a gold medal in the ParaOlympic Pan American Games. She has played on championship teams at Courage Center and has won all-tournament team honors. She wasn’t available for comment in late May because she was in Europe participating in preliminary basketball games for the ParaOlympics.

Hollerman competes in basketball, track and field, and sled hockey. She has used a wheelchair since sustaining a spinal cord injury in a 2001 motor vehicle accident.

In spring 2011 Hollerman won the inaugural girls’ wheelchair 1,600 and 800 races at the state track and field meet. She was the only participant in the races.

Her family had worked to get the races and other events added.

The MSHSL declined an opportunity to comment.

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