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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Coach Wins Bid to Use Wheelchair on Field

May 04, 2000

ANAHEIM — A disabled high school coach prevailed Wednesday in his quest to use his wheelchair on the baseball field.

The California Interscholastic Federation and its Southern Section, which temporarily banned coach Victor Barrios, 27, from the field last year, also will pay the coach $10,000 for excluding him from eight games.

Barrios, now a coach at Magnolia High School, had coached the Westminster High School freshman team for four years before umpires banned him from the field, citing concerns about his ability to move quickly in his wheelchair.

During Wednesday's game against the Wildcats from Brea-Olinda Unified, Barrios was both elated and irate. Early in the game his freshman team was getting pummeled, so he talked about his sense of victory while pounding on his wheelchair and shouting at the boys.

"I'm just so glad that now I can go out and coach without being afraid . . . someone's going to pull my wheelchair back off the field," Barrios said.

His players called him a capable, inspiring coach.

After Barrios sued the federation in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last May, he and the CIF reached a temporary agreement allowing him to finish coaching the rest of the season.

Wednesday's agreement makes that arrangement permanent--although it is specific to Barrios.

Barrios' attorney at the Center for Law in the Public Interest, Laura Diamond, touted the settlement as a change in CIF policy.

A federation spokesman, however, says no rules were changed because of the settlement and that the organization would have accommodated Barrios without a lawsuit.

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