Penn Yan athletic policy questioned

Gwen Chamberlain

Questions about coaching decisions and moving players from modified teams to the junior varsity level of lacrosse took several minutes of the Penn Yan School Board meeting April 2, but the parent who posed those questions didn’t get any answers until he spoke with coaches.

Milt and Brenda Race told the Board of Education they were concerned about their ninth grade son’s situation on the Junior Varsity team.

Saying ninth grade is the year his son is supposed to be able to “shine,” Milt described how his son had been moved from the position where he excels — attack — to one he’s unfamiliar with — midfield. He says a younger player, brought up from the modified team, had taken the attack position, and his son’s play time has been reduced.

Brenda said, “My son is scholarship material. There are other young men who are scholarship material...they deserve that chance.” She said last year, scouts from two teams outside of Penn Yan approached the family about their son playing for them.

The couple and Christa Disbrow said Penn Yan coaching staff promotes and plays athletes whose parents are school employees, rather than players who have more advanced skills.

However, after talking with Junior Varsity Coach Trevor Archer and Varsity Coach Brian Hobart over the weekend, Milt says he is satisfied with the communication. “They have answered all my questions... I’m not trying to be a thorn in anybody’s side,” he adds.

Milt says the coaches made some changes in positions that he would consider “good moves,” and he wouldn’t mind going back to the school board to let the members know he’s satisfied.

Athletic Director Tobin Tansey points to the district’s Athletic Handbook for details about levels of play and selection criteria. Milt admits he had not referred to the handbook before addressing the board of education members. Tansey said no parents have come to talk with him about concerns.

Superintendent David Hamilton says Tansey will be making his annual athletic presentation at the next school board meeting April 23, and he will include information about the district’s practices regarding moving athletes up to the next level of play.

Tansey also stresses that while lacrosse players may sign agreements to play at top level colleges, few receive scholarships. He says students are more likely to earn an academic scholarship than they are to receive a sports-related scholarship. According to the NCAA website, more than 150,000 student-athletes receive $2.7 billion in athletic scholarships each year from NCAA member colleges and universities. That means the average scholarship is about $18,000.

The handbook states that the modified level of competition for grades 7 and 8 or 7, 8 and 9 prepares students by, among other things, teaching the fundamentals of team play and responsibilities of being on a team. The focus at this level is on the social and emotional growth of the student/athlete.

The Junior Varsity level is designed for student/athletes in grades 9 and 10, but those in grades 7 and 8 who are recommended for and pass selection classification are also eligible. At this level, individual athletic skill and ability are further refined, and student athletes are prepared for the Varsity level.

The varsity level is designed for student athletes in grades 10, 11 and 12, but students in grades 9 are eligible, as are those in grades 7 and 8 who are recommended for and pass selection classification. The goal at the varsity level is to win and strive for victory in every contest.

The criteria for selection classification is also outlined in the handbook, which is available on the school district’s website.

At all levels, emphasis is on personal enjoyment, team play, sportsmanship and healthy competition.

Both the Junior Varsity and Varsity sections of the handbook include this statement: “At this level, playing time is influenced by skill level, motivation and attitude, and at the discretion of the coach.”

The handbook also outlines the stages of communication between a student/athlete or parents and a coach. The first step is that an athlete should discuss concerns with a coach. The steps progress through parents, coaches and athletic director to the building principal, superintendent and board of education if all other avenues have failed to resolve an issue.

“Playing time” is one of the issues that the handbook lists as inappropriate to discuss with coaches.

“It is very difficult to accept your child’s not playing as much as you may hope. Coaches are professionals and they make judgment decisions based on what they believe to be the best for all students involved,” the handbook states.

Other business at the April 2 meeting included:

• REFUNDING BONDS: The board authorized the refunding of school district bonds of $2.35 million in order to secure lower interest rates on the district’s outstanding debt of $2.29 million.