High School Exchange Student Denied Sports

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URBANA - A German exchange student studying at Urbana High School was found ineligible to play sports at a hearing on Monday.

Niklas Bals, 16, had hoped to play basketball and tennis while staying with an Urbana family on a student visa. But according to the Illinois State High School Association, only students studying through an approved exchange program can be athletes.

Bals' host father Lenny De Forge says they tried applying for eligibility several times. De Forge even obtained legal guardianship over the 6'6" athlete to help the process.

Bals said he had come to America with the hope of playing sports. Until the ruling, he had practiced with the basketball team six times per week. The family says they are devastated.

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