By Richard Obert | Arizona Republic
Sasha Danyliuk isn’t a ringer brought to Phoenix Christian to lead the girls’ basketball team to a state title.
She fled the war in her homeland Ukraine a year ago, coming to Phoenix Christian, hoping for a better life and the promise of tomorrow. A freshman, she wishes to graduate in 2026 from the small private school that competes in the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
But because of an international eligibility rule ushered into the AIA bylaws in 2011, after tiny Orme School, a boarding school outside of Mayer, went 25-0 and won the 1A boys basketball state title with mostly international players, she can’t ever play in a varsity game.
She did not come here with a J-1 visa that falls under the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), a foreign-exchange program that the AIA recognizes. But even with that, it is good for only one year of academic and varsity eligibility as a foreign-exchange student.
“This is precisely what the AIA appeal situation is for – unusual circumstances. Allowing a child from a war zone to escape and play sports seems like a solid case for a hardship that won’t set any sort of bad precedent,” said Jordan Rose founder and president of Rose Law Group who handles many AIA appeals for student athletes.