Posted: 4:40 pm Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
By Jeff Greer
Brisly Estime anticipated a short 2012 football season, but his appeal to the state’s athletic association changed all that.
Estime, a rising senior at Atlantic with Division I football scholarship offers, will reach the state’s age limit for high school student-athletes (19 years, 9 months) after two weeks of games this fall. Under the Florida High School Athletic Association’s bylaws, he’d have to sit out the remainder of the season.
At an FHSAA hearing in Miami on Wednesday, Estime, explaining that an early-childhood move held him back academically, appealed for full fall eligibility. The Haitian-born defensive back and a source close to Atlantic High football both said Estime won his appeal, though the FHSAA did not respond to inquiries for confirmation Wednesday afternoon.
Estime tweeted about the FHSAA’s ruling just before 2 p.m. Wednesday, saying “God is great” before announcing he got “the green light” to play the full season.
Estime’s full eligibility is a huge boon for Atlantic, a team that competes in one of the state’s toughest districts. He was the star of the Eagles’ 14-0 spring-game victory against Glades Central, and he’s expected to star in Atlantic’s defensive secondary and on the special-teams unit.
Not only is it a major break for Atlantic, it’s also one for Estime, who worried that limited exposure this fall would hurt his chances of signing a Division I scholarship in February. That’s no longer a concern.
Estime, whose family moved to Delray Beach from Haiti in the late 1990s, enrolled in public elementary school and was immediately behind, slowed by the Creole-English language barrier. Once he reached high school, Estime’s mentor, Atlantic High teacher Whitney Clodfelter, discovered he wasn’t on course to graduate on time in 2012.
Clodfelter enrolled him in Florida Virtual School in an attempt to speed up his credit intake and help him graduate in 2012, which would have made him eligible to play college football this fall. That plan, which included hours of summer and after-school classes over the past two years, chipped away at his credit gap, but not enough, prompting Estime’s plea to the FHSAA.