Ledford first homeschool student attending Starr’s Mill under SB 42

Senior+Ashley+Ledford+dribbles+the+ball+at+soccer+practice.+Ledford+is+the+first+homeschooled+student+to+attend+Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill+under+SB+42%2C+allowing+her+to+participate+in+school+athletics.+

Annika Pepper

Senior Ashley Ledford dribbles the ball at soccer practice. Ledford is the first homeschooled student to attend Starr’s Mill under SB 42, allowing her to participate in school athletics.

Abby Carter, Editor-in-Chief

Senior Ashley Ledford has become the first homeschooled student to play for her local high school thanks to new Georgia legislation. 

I would think it would only make our sports better and continue helping our kids compete against the highest quality possible in practice as well as on the field.”

— Athletic Director Shane Ratliff

“I’m really excited, I’ve always wanted to play for the high school ever since I was younger and when I wasn’t able to be given that opportunity it wasn’t the best feeling,” Ledford said. “Once I got the message that they were going to be allowing homeschoolers to play I was really looking forward to it because I’m now able to live that dream.”

Governor Kemp signed SB 42 last May, allowing homeschooled students to play for their districted schools. Under the new rules, homeschooled students have to notify their intended school 30 days before the semester begins, disclose what sport they will participate in, and enroll in one class at the school. 

Ledford previously attended Freedom Project Academy, and with help from girls varsity soccer coach John Bowen and athletic director Shane Ratliff she now attends Starr’s Mill for a class period and plays soccer for the school.

“My best bet is it is only going to bring our competition even higher up,” Ratliff said. “A lot of these homeschool kids are very specialized in sports. I would think it would only make our sports better and continue helping our kids compete against the highest quality possible in practice as well as on the field.”

Ledford has played soccer at AFC since age seven. The AFC girls academy league just finished, and Ledford now makes the move to Starr’s Mill soccer.

On November 10, she committed to the University of West Georgia. Ledford was also selected for the 2022 Preseason 5-AAAAA All-State Team.

“She’s played with lots of girls that have been here, graduated last year, and are currently here, so they all highly recommend [her],” Bowen said. “[The other players] were super excited she was going to get to play.” 

Ledford joins a  varsity girls team that has won the state championship six times, most recently in 2015, and has made the state playoffs every year since 1998. They have also won the region nine times and finished runner-up in the state championship four times.

Tryouts ended last Friday, and the team travels to Chattahoochee tonight for a scrimmage before the regular season begins next week. Both varsity soccer teams host Veterans on January 25, with the girls’ match starting at 6 p.m. in Panther Stadium.