SAMOHI — After weeks of anxiety, football standout Sebastian LaRue was allowed to have his day on Monday.
Previously, Santa Monica High School Principal Laurel Fretz had denied a request to host a presentation ceremony on campus noting LaRue’s selection to the prestigious Under Armour All-America High School Football Game.
Fretz cited protecting his eligibility and her unwillingness to help Under Armour sell athletic gear among her reasons for denial.
The decision didn’t sit well with a number of people in the football community. Calls were made by LaRue’s father Darryl LaRue to officials with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District with Board of Education member Oscar de la Torre ultimately taking up the cause.
Fretz wrote in an e-mail that she made the initial decision to deny the ceremony because of the sensitive nature of the college recruiting process and issues revolving around eligibility. But after speaking with district Superintendent Sandra Lyon, she changed her stance.
“It was with [Lyon’s] guidance that we decided to have the ceremony [Monday] and we are happy to do so,” Fretz wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Press. “Sebastian is an excellent athlete and we are very proud of him both on and off the field.”
Once the LaRue family realized that the school was reluctant to host the event they scrambled to find a willing location. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, school district headquarters and local eatery Gilbert’s were on the table.
“I feel good about it,” Darryl LaRue said of the reversal. “It’s been an exhausting thing to go round and round and ultimately have it at the school. It was frustrating.”
Once he heard about the situation, de la Torre offered his Pico Youth & Family Center to the LaRue family, but really believed it should be held at Samohi.
“As a former football player myself, I thought that we should support athletics and that it’s a wonderful opportunity for Santa Monica High School to receive national recognition,” he said.
Travis Clark, Samohi’s head football coach, said he was relieved that a compromise was reached, but worried that the turnout wouldn’t be as large as he would have liked because of the short notice regarding the venue change.
“I’m happy that they came around and supported Sebastian,” Clark said.
His fears turned out to be unfounded as a good number of Samohi students and members of the community showed up for the ceremony.
Despite the trouble of setting up the event, Sebastian LaRue was just happy to receive the honor in front of his classmates.
“I had the people I wanted here the most,” he said.