Interscholastic Athletics can be a fun, rewarding, and memorable part of the high school experience. While academics offer the primary source for formal education, athletics can contribute to the total value of that education in many different ways. Building upon the concepts of teamwork, fair play, sportsmanship, and self-esteem, athletics can help to provide for a well-rounded educational experience. Athletic participation is a privilege and not a right. To those who strive to succeed in the classroom comes the privilege to compete outside of it.
Being an athlete or the parent of an athlete is often a very challenging ordeal. Sometimes this relationship can become complicated due to the nature and structure of athletics in general. It is the intent of this Athletic Handbook to provide some insights as to the role and responsibilities that athletes, parents and coaches face and share, separately and together, in the realm of high school athletic participation.
The interscholastic (high school) sport experience is much different than the recreational sport experience. Whereas recreational sport philosophy stresses equal participation by all, at the interscholastic level playing time is earned and not guaranteed. Student-athletes earn playing time through good work ethics in practice, skill development, sportsmanship, and overall team attitude.
Likewise, not all who tryout for a given team will endure through the final selection process, to make the team roster. Coaches are responsible for the selection of team rosters and for the determination of playing time for those on the team. Team goals should always take precedence over those of the individual.
Athletic Chain of Command
- Head coach
- Athletic Director(s)
**** (The “Chain of Command” is a step by step process bringing together the primary individuals for discussion purposes. Each level is in place in order to assist in the process of conflict resolution.)
*There is a proper chain of command that should be followed when a parent/guardian submits a complaint and/or concern and they are as follows:
1. If there are any questions or concerns regarding any aspect of the Player–Coach Relationship, the athlete should first contact the appropriate coach.
2. Every effort should be made to resolve a complaint with the coach involved.
3. If the concern is not resolved with the coach, it should be submitted to the athletic director in the form of a letter or phone call so that a conference can be set up.
4. If the concern is not resolved with the athletic director, then a parent/guardian may continue on with the chain of command and contact the Principal/Superintendent.
Section A: Relationships
The player-coach relationship is perhaps the most critical of all relationships in athletics. Please allow the coaches to do the job for which they were hired. Coaches are expected to be leaders and role models for their players. They are expected to teach and guide the players who play for them. They are not there to be friends or buddies.
Concepts such as integrity, character, and sportsmanship provide the foundation upon which our coaching philosophy is based.
All too often during athletic events, situations arise where many adults become too involved in the game in progress, professing to know more than the coaches or even the officials in charge. While this expertise may heighten a person’s appreciation for a particular sport, it in no way changes the status of the individual as a parent-spectator. You should be there only to observe and enjoy the athletic performance.
As a parent you obviously want what is best for your child. Allowing the coach to guide and instruct the team is crucial. Again, you are asked to please allow the coach to do his/her job. Should you have any questions or concerns, do not approach the coach immediately after a game. At this time, coaches have other responsibilities and it may be a very emotional moment. Call and make an appointment for a later time and approach this meeting in a calm and logical manner.
For many coaches, one of the post-game responsibilities is to meet with his/her players. Athletes should not be expected to stop and talk to parents and friends immediately after a game is over. These team meetings are essential to the learning process and are important in efforts to build team unity and understanding.
Parents can have a very profound effect upon the player/coach relationship. While you may not agree with all decisions that a coach may make, how and when you express your feelings can have a decided effect upon your child. If you express a negative opinion in front of your child, you need to remember that he or she may carry your convictions to the next practice or game. This in turn can lead to a player-coach tension. You, as a parent, have great influence upon this delicate relationship.
Sometimes parents may try to re-live their own athletic memories through the real life athletic efforts of their children. Being positive and supportive is very important, but adding pressure and unrealistic expectations may be extremely harmful. Allow your child to enjoy and to grow and to take responsibility for his/her athletic experiences. Encourage your child to give 100% effort and to become a team player, not an individual statistic seeker. In the end, it is the child’s perception of the game that really matters, not that of the parents.
Relationship With Game Officials:
It is often the case that if a game is seemingly leaning toward one side over the other, irate fans will infer an unfair advantage given by the officials. The home school does not select the officials. A sport commissioner assigns all officials and neither team has a say in which officials are assigned to a given game or contest.
Game officials agree to and follow a code of conduct and ethics. They really do not have a vested interest in which team emerges victorious. It is very essential to understand that officials are an integral part of the game. While you may not agree with all of their calls, please do not harass and taunt game officials. Parents are supposed to be good role models for their children. Remember that officials are in charge of the game and have complete authority to have unruly spectators removed.
Many times a given team may see the same officials on several occasions throughout the course of a season. Coaches, Athletic Directors and School Administrators work hard to establish good working relationships with game officials, which can be easily damaged or destroyed by spectator interference.
Section B: Responsibilities
Responsibilities of the Athlete:
Athletes are expected to adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Strive for academic success in order to assure athletic eligibility.
2. The team’s goals and success should always come before individual interests.
3. Athletes need to be in attendance at all scheduled practices and games, including weekends and holiday breaks.
4. Athletes should adapt to and respect different coaching styles.
5. Athletes must respect opponents (players and coaches) and game officials.
6. Team members are responsible for all issued uniforms and equipment. Failure to adhere will result in disciplinary action.
7. Athletes are responsible for the security of all personal items. Assigned lockers are to be used at all times in order to secure belongings.
8. As a team member an athlete must abide by established team rules.
9. All injuries must be reported to the coach and to the Athletic Trainer.
10. Take pride in being a student-athlete at S. S. Seward Institute.
Responsibilities of the Coach:
Coaches are responsible for all of the following:
- Lead by example.
- Running fair tryouts and using an effective evaluation process.
- Determining the style of play, including offensive and defensive philosophy.
- Teaching, instructing, and overseeing all practice sessions.
- Determining starting lineups and making decisions regarding playing time.
- Selecting position players.
- Establishing and enforcing team and school rules.
- Selection of team captains.
- Overall communication with players and parents.
- Provide appropriate supervision at all times (before, during, and after all games and practices) (Including locker room supervision)
- Presenting themselves as appropriate role models.
- Be willing and available to discuss player-coach or parent-coach issues. (See“Chain of Command.”)
- Be consistent, fair, and respectful of individual differences.
- Develop team and individual objectives and goals.
- Foster a healthy atmosphere for athletic competition.
Responsibilities of the Parent:
Parents are expected to meet the following expectations:
- Demonstrate good sportsmanship at all times. Make only positive comments during competition.
- Lead by example for your child and for those around you.
- Be supportive of athletic department and school rules and regulations.
- Demonstrate self-respect and be respectful of others.
- Do not interfere with the duties of game officials.
- Take pride in your child, his/her team, and the Florida community at large.**** It is important to remember that participation on an athletic team is a privilege and not a right. Being part of and maintaining one’s membership on a given team means accepting all of the responsibilities of an athlete. Unlike recreational or intramural teams, equal or guaranteed playing time is not assured. Coaches will make the necessary decisions and utilize those players best suited to the conditions or demands of the particular contest on any given day.• Please refrain from questioning a coach about the position or playing time of your student-athlete. This remains the sole responsibility of each coach. We expect the player-coach relationship to be utilized in these situations.
Section C: Sportsmanship
Sportsmanship Procedures: The School’s Role:
It is the expectation of S. S. Seward Institute, and more specifically the Athletic Department, that everyone in the Florida community will conform to and demonstrate good sportsmanship and fair play during all athletic contests. This concept is presented to the staff and to the athletes throughout the school year.
1. At the General Staff Meeting in August sportsmanship is addressed with all current year coaches.
2. Once team rosters have been established each team is addressed by the Athletic Director regarding sportsmanship expectations and procedures.
3. The student body is reminded of sportsmanship at all Pep Rallies and other athletic activities.
4. The Sports Boosters Club is addressed as to the need for good sportsmanship.
5. The sportsmanship slogan is posted and announced at all home games.
6. Student-athletes sign an “Athlete’s Pledge” form.
**** The Athletic Department at S. S. Seward Institute views the need for good sportsmanship as a very important issue. We will continue in our efforts to assure that every student-athlete understands that need as well.
Sportsmanship: The Athlete’s, Parents, and Coaches’ Role:
Since the concept of athletics should be educational in nature, it is important everyone involved demonstrates good sportsmanship. “Sportsmanship is an overt display of respect for the rules of sport and for all others – players, coaches, officials, and fans.” It also involves a commitment to fair play, ethical behavior, and integrity. This means that:
1. Vulgar or inappropriate language is not tolerated nor permitted.
2. Taunting or trash talking with opponents or with their fans is not tolerated.
3. Spectators may NOT step onto the court or field of play during a game or contest.
4. Athletes and/or Coaches may not leave the field of play, or bench area, or enter the bleachers at any time during the game, including half time and/or time outs.
5. Spectators should be supportive and positive. Cheering should be done in support of our team, not against our opponent.
6. Athletes, Coaches, and Spectators should not interfere with the opponent’s cheerleaders preventing them from leading their cheers.
7. Athletes, Coaches, and Spectators should let the officials officiate.
Section D: Important Participation Information
Risks Associated with Athletic Participation
The very nature of athletic competition provides for potential risk and injury to occur. Even with protective equipment, proper supervision, and sound instruction, injuries still do happen. In extremely rare cases, even death could result. All athletes and parents need to be aware of the potential hazards that exists within the athletic arena. We in the S. S. Seward Institute Athletic Department will always do whatever we can to ensure that our athletes have a safe and healthy athletic experience.
Pre-Tryout Eligibility Checklist
Athletes and their parents have certain responsibilities to uphold even before tryouts begin. All of the following requirements must be satisfied before any student will be allowed to tryout, practice, or participate on an athletic team.
Physical Examination Form/Vaccines
This form must be completed, signed by the parents/guardians and the physician and submitted to the school nurse to be kept on file. Athletes’ must have a “current year” physical exam form on file in order to be cleared and eligible for athletic participation, including out of season workouts during the school year. All immunizations must be up to date. Approved immunization exemption requests currently on file will be honored. It is suggested that physical exams be scheduled over the summer months so the entire school year will be cleared for athletic participation (downloadable health examination form).
Athletic Permit Form
This form must be completed and signed by the parents/guardians. Sports to be played should be indicated as well as all applicable insurance information. This form should be submitted to the Athletic Trainer’s Office (downloadable permit form).
Athlete-Parent-Coach Compliance Form
This form must be signed by the Athlete, his/her parents/guardians, and coaches as evidence of reading and understanding the information contained in the Athletic Handbook. Athletes who tryout and are selected as team members must bring this form with them to the preseason “Meet the Coaches” night for their sport. This meeting is mandatory for rostered players and their parents. Failure to attend this meeting and to submit this Compliance Form will result in the athlete being rendered ineligible for participation until all forms are submitted (downloadable compliance form).
- All Pre-Tryout Checklist Eligibility items must have been completed.
- All athletes should be given a fair and equitable tryout evaluation.
- Coaches MUST utilize an evaluation tool in order to keep track of strengths and weaknesses of those trying out for their sport.
- Efforts evaluated over the tryout period are the most important factors used to determine team selection. Out of season workouts, camps, or other sport participation are not considered as criteria for selecting team rosters.
- Not everyone who tries out for a team will make it through to the final selection process. Coaches are responsible for selecting final team rosters.
Expectations of Rostered Players:
All athletes, who after tryouts, are selected as final rostered players must agree to the following:
1. Agree to sign the “Athlete’s Pledge.” As a rostered student athlete you are expected to serve as role models for others. Efforts in the classroom set the student/athlete up for success on the field. Respect and responsibility go hand in hand. You MUST lead by example when it comes to sportsmanship.
2. As a rostered student athlete you agree to comply with all school and team rules.
3. As a rostered student athlete you agree to maintain academic and disciplinary eligibility throughout the season.
Practice Sessions and Games:
Practice sessions may be closed to spectators at the discretion of the coaches. These sessions are the equivalent of a teacher’s classroom and there is real instruction taking place. Interference and interruptions to an athlete’s concentration and focus in practice cannot be allowed any more than a disruption would be tolerated in an academic classroom. Coaching and learning should not be compromised.
Vacation Practice Policy:
When athletes commit to a varsity or junior varsity sport, they should assume that practices and/or contests might take place over school vacations. Since some of the games/meets/matches are during vacation times we ask that you make every effort to have your son/daughter there as well. S.S. Seward teams would be at an extreme disadvantage if they took the time off while others are playing. In addition, it would be unfair to ask other schools to reschedule contests at another time thus forcing them to play 3, 4, or even 5 games during a week in order to accommodate our athletes. Athletes who must go away and miss practice and/or contests during vacations can expect that there could be some effect on their standing on the team, their playing time, their chances of making a team when cuts take place, and their ability to earn a letter for that sport.
Eligibility: Academic or Disciplinary:
The student athletes at S. S. Seward Institute are here for their education first and foremost. Athletic participation is a privilege and granted only to those who are deserving of this opportunity. Problems with grades and or behavior are justifiable reasons for Academic or Disciplinary Ineligibility. Athletes are expected to:
- To participate in ALL extra curricular activities, a student cannot be failing two or more subjects weekly, including physical education. Major subjects count as one and minor subjects count as one-half. Below is a list of major and minor subjects:
Major Subjects: English, mathematics, science, foreign language, social studies, business
Minor Subjects: Physical education, health, home economics, computers, music, art
2. Remain in good disciplinary standing.
3. Attend school on time in order to be eligible to practice or play on a daily
**** Please refer to the Student Handbook for specific interpretations of all Academic and Disciplinary Eligibility procedures and regulations.
Uniforms and Equipment
At the beginning of each season, the Head Coach distributes all necessary uniforms and equipment. As an athlete you are responsible for the care and return of all issued goods at the end of the season. The Head Coach will determine the collection times.
Failure to return uniforms or equipment will result in disciplinary action(s) and/or financial obligation for replacement of the outstanding items.
In fairness to coaches and team members, an athlete can leave one team and join another but only after the following conditions have been satisfied:
1. Any player cut from a team during tryouts may immediately tryout for another team if that team has not already completed its scheduled tryouts.
2. Any player quitting a team must have the original coach and Athletic Director’s approval to try out for another team. All uniform and equipment obligations must be met before approval can be given.
3. Any player dismissed from a team must have the Athletic Director’s approval before joining another team.
Athletes must travel as a team to athletic contests, on the bus provided. Once a game is over athletes are expected to return to school as a team, on the bus provided. (Proper behavior is expected of all athletes when on bus trips). The only exception to this rule is if a parent wishes to take his/her own child home with them. In this case, the parent must sign out their child directly with the coach.
For many athletic events students must be dismissed from school before normal dismissal times. Early dismissal from classes for athletic reasons does not release student athletes from class-work responsibilities. Each athlete must make arrangements for getting assignments, taking missed quizzes or tests, or handing in homework. Athletes will have 15 minutes from dismissal time until bus departure time.
Lateness / Absenteeism
Students who are absent from school on the day of an activity may not participate in school activities, contests, or practices on that day unless the reason for this absence is a funeral, court, or similar phenomena. A note from the student’s parent/guardian must be presented to the Athletic Director explaining the reasons for the absence. The Athletic Director will then make a decision about participation. Illness is not an accepted excuse for participation. A student who has recovered from being sick during the day should sign in with the attendance clerk by 10:35 a.m. in order to be eligible for participation that day. Any student sent home at any time during the school day due to illness is not eligible for participation in athletics that day.
It is extremely important to report any injury to your coach immediately. Your coach must fill out an accident report. A visit to a Doctor will yield a determined return to play date. No athlete will be allowed to participate further until that date is reached and a note of clearance is issued by the attending physician and received by the coach.
Medical expenses resulting from any injury must first be submitted to your own insurance carrier and then any remaining balance can be submitted to the school accident insurance carrier. If a student athlete is injured and parents need a copy of the injury report for insurance, they should go into the school and see the school’s secretary for this form and procedures as soon as possible once the injury occurs.
Concussions and head injuries are commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and can have serious consequences if not managed carefully. Any student suspected by a coach or referee of sustaining a concussion will be removed from contest or practice for the rest of the day. The district’s concussion management protocol will then be followed before a student athlete completely returns to competitive play.
Section E: Associated Items of Information
The S. S. Seward Institute Athletic Department does not condone the use of prohibited substances such as steroids, nor support the use of other over the counter supplements which contain artificial or naturally occurring substances that increase heart rate, blood pressure, or promote unhealthy muscle tissue growth. Use of any of these products, which may be detrimental to your health, is a violation of the “Athlete’s Pledge” and “Coaches Pledge.”
Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
School rules are very specific as to the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco products. The use of or possession / distribution of any of these substances is forbidden. Athletes and Coaches who violate this “no use” policy are subject to possible dismissal from athletic teams. Use of any of these products, which may be detrimental to your health, is a violation of the “Athlete’s Pledge” and “Coaches Pledge.”
Stealing will not be tolerated under any circumstances, whether it be from teammates, opponents, or others. Any athlete involved in a theft will be immediately dismissed from his/her team and normal disciplinary procedures will be imposed. This is a zero tolerance policy. Do not leave personal items unattended or unsecured in locker rooms or hallways. Take personal items to practice with you, if necessary.
Athletic Team Trips
Just as the classroom is designed to provide for an educational experience the realm of sports can also be very educational. At times, athletic opportunities provide for teams to take overnight and extended team trips. The experience of travel, and the opportunity to compete, make these events valuable additions to the overall high school experience.
Student athletes, parents, chaperones, and coaches are representatives of S. S. Seward Institute and as such carry a great deal of responsibility when teams travel. Best behavior is not only requested but mandatory. All school rules apply when teams travel, and violation of school and team rules carry disciplinary consequences. Athletes, parents, chaperones, and coaches should be sure to familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook, regarding rules and consequences.
It is the hope of the Athletic Department that you will find the overall athletic experience to be worthwhile, enjoyable and a valuable contribution to the total educational process at S. S. Seward Institute. Be proud of our school, confident in your education, and satisfied with the total athletic experience. If you can look back at your time at S. S. Seward Institute and feel good about the overall experience, then we have done our jobs well.
**** Please go to the Athletic Forms page to download and sign pledge and compliance forms.