Football coach wants players to take drug tests

Ashland High School's football coach wants to perform weekly drug tests on his team, in the hopes of curbing marijuana and alcohol use among players.

Charlie Hall, who also teaches physical education, will ask the School Board on Monday to allow the football team to undergo random urine analysis tests.

"I'm just trying to create an environment and culture in our team where there's respect for the team, for your bodies, and you're as alert and as responsive as you can be so you're able to play the game as best you can," Hall said.

The move comes after two players were caught with drugs off campus this summer, before the season started. Hall gave the players a two-game suspension. If they had been caught on campus, they would have been suspended from one-third of the season — which would have hampered the entire team, Hall said.

Now, Hall hopes he can be proactive about curbing drug use, he said.

"I just felt like as a coach I'd like to be able to do something or at least send a message to them," he said.

The coach has already received signatures of approval for the testing from all parents of players except for one, he said. If the board approves the testing, parents or guardians would still need to OK the testing for their child, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said.

"It's all 100 percent voluntary," she said. "If the board approves it, those families (that don't want their children tested) just wouldn't participate and there'd be no detriment to those kids or judgment."

If the program is approved, a few students each week would be randomly selected to be tested, Hall said.

If they test positive for drugs, their parents will be notified and "hopefully it will be the first step in positive intervention," Hall wrote in a letter to parents.

"It's not supposed to be a program that's going to punishment oriented," he said.

If players test positive a second time, they will be suspended from the team until they have completed a rehabilitation program, the details of which have not yet been worked out, he said.

The coach hopes the testing would give athletes an excuse to not use drugs when their peers may be pressuring them to, he said.

"We want them to have a valid reason to say no to drugs because of a potential test," he wrote in the letter.

The testing shouldn't cost the district anything for the time being, Hall said. He has received donations of supplies from locals who he declined to identify. However, if supplies run out, the board could decide to fund the testing, he said.

The board will decide whether to approve the testing for this football season only, Di Chiro said. If the pilot program is successful, it's possible other athletes could face drug tests in the future.

The superintendent doesn't know of any other schools in Southern Oregon that perform drug tests on their athletes, she said. A handful of high schools in the country have their athletes take drug tests, Hall said.

If the board approves the testing at it's 7 p.m. Monday meeting in the Civic Center, it could begin as early as Saturday, he said.

"Above all, whether the School Board votes for it or doesn't, we've definitely generated some awareness," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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