Athletics Handbook

Table of Contents

Introduction | Chain of Command | Relationships | Responsibilities  | Participant Information | Eligibility & Disciplinary I Conclusion


Athletic Handbook for Athletes and Parents

Interscholastic athletics in the Florida Union Free School District are a component of the physical education program and an integral part of the district’s educational program. The S.S. Seward Athletic program represents our commitment to the development of physical fitness, personal health and competent performance of our students.

This value-building experience is offered to as many students as possible through participation as well as the association with a team. Through athletics, students experience dedication and self-discipline. Making a commitment to a team helps to nurture integrity, pride, loyalty and overall character. Carrying these values throughout life will make our students better citizens.

Modified Program Philosophy:

We have a variety of programs for students in the 7th and 8th grades between the ages of 12 to 15. A student reaching age 16 during a sport season may complete that season and must play junior varsity or varsity the next sport season. Sport activities offered are determined by existence of leagues, student interest, and relationship to the high school program and board approval. At this level the focus is on learning athletic skills and game rules, fundamentals of team play, socio-emotional growth, physiologically appropriate demands on the adolescent body and healthy competition. This program is designed to offer students the opportunity to engage in a more highly organized competitive experience than what is found in intramural or recreation programs, but not as involved as those found in varsity or junior varsity interscholastic competition. At this level, it is the District’s philosophy that all players are allowed playing time in each game with the coach’s discretion as to how much time is given.

Junior Varsity Program Philosophy:

The junior varsity level is intended for those who display the potential for continued development into productive varsity level performers. In certain situations, juniors who are expected to make future contributions at the varsity level will be considered for junior varsity participation. The junior varsity team can be comprised of freshman, sophomores, and juniors. Seventh or eighth grade student-athletes who have passed the Athletic Placement Process For Interschool Athletic Programs(APP) may also play on the junior varsity sports. Seventh graders can only try-out for the freshman football team.

Athletes are expected to have committed themselves to the program. To this end, increased emphasis is placed on physical conditioning, refinement of fundamentals, skills, elements and strategies of team play in addition to socio-emotional development. Junior varsity programs work towards achieving a balancing team and player development and striving for victory. The outcome of the contest becomes a consideration at this level.

The realization that practice sessions are important is a premise that is vital to a successful junior varsity team and player. A specific amount of playing time is never guaranteed. Participants at this level are preparing themselves for the six-day-a-week commitment that is expected at the varsity level. Practice sessions are sometimes scheduled during school vacation periods. Since the goal of becoming a varsity athlete is clearly in sight, a high level of dedication and commitment is expected at the junior varsity level. Each sport may have cuts and have limited spots.

Varsity Program Philosophy:

Varsity competition is the culmination of each athletic program. These teams are composed of the most skilled, dedicated members of the program, regardless of grade level. Seniors are NOT guaranteed a position on a varsity team. Participation on a varsity team does not guarantee a spot the following year. Each sport may have cuts and have limited spots.

Squad size at the varsity level is limited. The number of participants on any given team is a function of those needed to conduct an effective and meaningful practice and to play the contest. It is vital that each team member has a role and is informed of its importance. While contest participation over the course of a season is desirable, a specific amount of playing time at the varsity level is not guaranteed. A sound attitude and advanced level of skill are prerequisites for a position on a varsity team, as is the realization that a varsity sport requires a six-day-a-week commitment. This commitment is extended into vacation periods for all sport seasons.

The varsity coach is the leader of that sport’s program and determines the system of instruction and strategy for that program. The communication among the modified, junior varsity and varsity programs is the responsibility of the head varsity coach. Preparing to win, striving for victory in each contest within the realm of good sportsmanship and fair play, while working together to reach the group’s and each individual’s maximum potential are worthy goals of a varsity level team.  Each sport may have cuts and have limited spots.

* 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.


S. S. SEWARD INSTITUTE Athletic Department

**** (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.
  5. Parents/fans that have a concern with our coaches must wait 24 hours to speak with that coach. WE DO NOT DISCUSS PLAYING TIME. Any parent/fan who confronts a coach on the day of a contest MAY result in a suspension from future contests.

“Athletic Chain of Command”
Head Coach
Athletic Director(s)

SECTION A: Relationships

Player-Coach Relationship:

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. Concepts such as integrity, character, and sportsmanship provide the foundation upon which our coaching philosophy is based.

Parent-Coach Relationship:

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.

Parent-Player Relationship:

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 relive 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, 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 6
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.
“So please let the players play, let the coaches coach, let the officials officiate, and let the spectators be positive.”

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 Parent:

Parents are expected to meet the following expectations:

  1. Demonstrate good sportsmanship at all times. Make only positive comments during competition.
  2. Lead by example for your child and for those around you.
  3. Be supportive of Athletic Department and School rules and regulations.
  4. Demonstrate self- respect and be respectful of others.
  5. Do not interfere with the duties of game officials.
  6. 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. *See modified program philosophy on playing time.

SECTION C: 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 exist 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.

Eligibility Checklist:

Athletes and their parents have certain responsibilities to uphold even before tryouts begin. All of the following requirements must be satisfied before an athlete can play in their first scrimmage and/or game. * Each season (Fall, Winter, Spring) will have a mandatory parent handbook meeting. This meeting is mandatory for rostered players and their parents. Failure to attend this meeting and to submit ALL signed forms will result in the athlete being rendered ineligible for participation. Parents only need to attend one time prior to the start of the season.

  1. 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. It is suggested that physical exams be scheduled over the summer months so the entire school year will be cleared for athletic participation. The District offers no-cost physicals each summer for students who wish to utilize the District’s Health Services.
  2. Athlete-Parent Compliance Form: This form must be signed by the Athlete and by his/her parents/guardians as evidence of reading and understanding the information contained in the Athletic Handbook. Athletes who tryout and are selected as team members must hand this form in to their coach or athletic director.
  3. Athletes and Parents’ Pledge Forms: These forms must be signed by the Athlete and by his/her parents/guardians as evidence of reading and understanding the information contained in the Athletic Handbook.
  4. Concussion Form: *See page 13-17
    Insurance Form: *See page 19
    Medical Consent Form: *See page 20
    Release and Indemnification Agreement Forms: *See page 21 & 22
    Assumption of Risk Form: *See pages 26-27

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. 
*Student athletes are expected to attend ALL practices, which are generally held five or six times each week. A student athlete who misses three practices without a legitimate excuse may be removed from his/her team.

Section D: Eligibility & Disciplinary:


A contestant must be a bona fide student of the high school represented and must be taking at least four subjects including physical education.
A student is eligible for interscholastic athletics in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12, provided the student does not turn 19 before September 1 of their senior year. Once a student enters high school, that student has four years of eligibility remaining.

Approval has been given by the State Education Department for the use of a Selection/Classification System based on physical maturity and readiness, rather than age-grade limitations, as determined by approved fitness and performance testing and only with the approval of the school medical officer. Because this program involves students below the ninth grade, the conditions described herein are waived for these students.

A student who may engage in inter-school competition shall receive an adequate health examination and may not practice or participate without the approval of the school medical officer.

A student who transfers from one school to another may become eligible upon starting regular attendance in the second school. A student, who becomes a resident of the school district, as determined by the residence of the parents or guardians, may practice immediately upon receiving a physical examination found to be acceptable.

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:

  1. 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. To remain in good disciplinary standing.
  3. To attend school on time in order to be eligible to practice or play on a daily basis.

*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.

Changing Teams:

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.

Early Dismissals:

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 Principal 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 10:35am 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. Students MUST attend a minimum of a half a day to participate in any after school activities. This includes the BOCES program.


It is extremely important to report any injury to your coach immediately. Your coach and/or athletic trainer 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. Please see the district website and pages 14, 15, and 16 for more information. S.S. Seward Institute will be utilizing an innovative concussion management program called ImPACT for all our student athletes. ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), is a computerized online exam in which each athlete will take prior to their athletic season. This 30-45 minute test is similar to the neuropsychological tests by clinicians to make return to play decisions. All parents/guardians will fill out a form prior to the test. Additional information can be found at


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”.

Drugs, Alcohol, Vaping 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. During the season, any student athlete found in violation of this regulation will be immediately removed from his/her team and will remain ineligible for the remainder of that athletic season. Once an athlete is ineligible, a hearing will be held with the athletic director, principal, and superintendent to further discuss future participation in the athlete program before participating in the next eligible season. In addition, if the student athlete commits their 2nd offense during their high school eligibility, to participate in any future athletic program, they must complete an online course on the subject matter given by the athletic director. If a 3rd offense occurs, the student athlete will be considered ineligible to participate in any interscholastic sports for the remainder of their time at S.S. Seward. Use of any of these products, which may be detrimental to your health, is a violation of the “Athlete’s Pledge”.


Stealing will not be tolerated under any circumstances, whether it be from teammates, opponents, or others. During the season, 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.


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.

Social Media:

All social media issues will follow the Florida Union Free School District Handbook

*If a student-athlete receives an out of school suspension, they will not be able to participate in practices, scrimmages, or games for those days. In addition, each suspension day will equal a one game day suspension once the student-athlete returns to the team. If a student receives a total of 5 suspended days during the season that student-athlete will be removed from the team for the remainder of the season. Suspensions WILL carry over into the next eligible season.

Conclusion Statement

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.

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**** Please go to the Athletic Forms page to download and sign pledge and compliance forms.