GLENDALE — Hakop Kaplanyan, the all-time leading scorer in Hoover High boys' water polo history and one of the most high-profile athletes to ever compete under the school's banner, has begun the process of making un unprecedented switch to play for the Tornadoes' chief rival.
Kaplanyan, a junior who is actually a student at Clark Magnet High in La Crescenta, told the News-Press on Wednesday that his family moved in early December from a residence within Hoover's athletic jurisdiction to one within Glendale High's and that he intends to play water polo for the Nitros in the fall.
"It's going to be kind of weird, it's going to be something to get used to, but I think I can handle it," Kaplanyan, the two-time reigning All-Area Player of the Year, said of switching caps from the program he became the face of to its nearest competitor. "[Glendale] already had a very good program running those years before I came. I wouldn't mind playing under their system at all."
According to representatives from both Glendale and Hoover, the process of establishing Kaplanyan's eligibility to play for the Nitros his senior year is far from complete. But Glendale High Asst. Principal Rene Valdes said on Thursday that his department is in the process of preparing the necessary paperwork for submission to its Hoover counterpart and ultimately to the CIF Southern Section offices.
"[Kaplanyan's family] informed Clark [of the change of residence] and, because he is now in our boundaries, then he technically is our student," Valdes said. "In terms of him being able to compete in water polo, we are proceeding with the CIF protocol and filling out the transfer paperwork.
"I know with him being a high-profile athlete, there's going to be a lot of questions and speculation about why he's coming. My position is, I'm going to follow the steps that we're required to follow through CIF, verifying that he actually lives at the address that he lives and the parents provide what they need to provide. I'll submit it to CIF and CIF makes the final decision, basically."
Valdes said the goal is to complete the process in a timely manner and certainly before the conclusion of the current school year.
Hoover High Athletic Director Jack Van Patten said he had not been presented with paperwork regarding Kaplanyan's transfer as of Thursday and declined further comment on the matter. In the event that Hoover elects to dispute the legitimacy of the transfer, only then would CIF initiate an investigation of the matter with both sides getting a chance to present their case.
"We have a self-policing system with regard to our member schools," CIF Director of Communications Thom Simmons said. "They are expected to let us know if there are irregularities regarding a particular transfer.
"It is the responsibility of the accepting school to verify that the criteria has been followed with regard to making that residential move," continued Simmons, who did comment specifically on Kaplanyan's situation. "If it hasn't, then the school is responsible for any sanctions that could possibly come down the line."
Valdes said he received real estate documents and utility bills corroborating the change of residence from Kaplanyan's parents in late-January.
The CIF Blue Book in Rule 206 B Article (b) states that in order for a change of residence to be considered legitimate, the original residence must be abandoned as a residence by the immediate family and the student's entire immediate family must make the change and take with them the household goods and furniture appropriate to the circumstances.
In addition, Rule 206 Article (c) also states that a student may not be eligible to participate at the varsity level if there is evidence the move was athletically motivated or the student enrolled in that school in whole or in part for athletic reasons.
The central piece of the aforementioned CIF transfer paperwork is the 510 form, which contains a checklist of the criteria outlined in Rule 206 Article (c) and must be signed by the transfer's parents and representatives of both schools.
Kaplanyan, the reigning All-Pacific League Most Valuable Player and an All-CIF selection, scored a Southern Section-record 229 goals as a sophomore, though the record is not recognized by the CIF as it was never submitted by Hoover High. During Kaplanyan's sophomore season, the Tornadoes advanced to the CIF quarterfinal round, culminating the most successful campaign in program chronicle.
Kaplanyan denied rumors that his relationship with Hoover Coach Ara Oganesyan was strained following the conclusion of the 2010 season, which saw the Tornadoes finish 16-16 for third place in the Pacific League behind Glendale and Crescenta Valley and reach the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.
"It was totally fine, everything was normal, nothing was bad," Kaplanyan said of his affiliation with the Tornadoes program. "I have no problem with the guys, same with Coach 'O.'"
Oganesyan, whom Kaplanyan said he had never personally notified of his transfer, declined comment for this story.
Kaplanyan also said that athletics played no part in motivating the change of residence and that no representative of Glendale High attempted to recruit him or influence the move, which would also be a violation of CIF rules.
Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook declined comment on Kaplanyan's transfer for this story, saying his sole focus is on a successful completion of the current Nitros' girls' water polo season.