At the time, Cornwell didn’t give any thought to how the semester off might affect his eligibility.
“Family comes first,” he said. “It was tough on me and my dad. How can I think about playing football when my mom is in trouble, when the woman who has taken care of me all my life is sick? When you’re in the midst of it you’re not thinking of anything but your family.”
Weeks after her condition improved but before Cornwell started back to school, he went on a previously planned 10-day mission trip to Africa. It will possibly be a sticking point as the OSSAA makes its case that taking a semester off was a personal decision and not a necessity.
OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said that it’s extremely rare for an additional year of eligibility to be granted and that it requires specific criteria to be met.
Cornwell believes he meets those criteria and, after having gone through spring practice, is looking forward to his final semester at North, where he plans to graduate even if he isn’t allowed to step onto the football field.
“If I’m the quarterback or the waterboy, Norman is my residence this year,” he said. “There’s no Plan B. Plan A is looking great right now. I’m a Norman North Timberwolf.”
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