Albion decides 7th graders no longer allowed to move up on JV, varsity teams

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 March 2020 at 1:06 pm

ALBION – Seventh-graders will no longer be allowed to play on junior varsity or varsity teams at Albion Central School, the Board of Education decided recently.

The district will give 8th graders an opportunity but only if they have strong grades, are emotionally mature and are exceptional athletes.

The 8th graders will be deemed exceptional with recommendations from coaches and at a skills assessment.

Adam Krenning, the athletic director, went over the Athletic Placement Process (APP) with the board recently. The district approved establishing a protocol for moving 8th graders up the JV or varsity levels.

Not all of the board members were in favor of excluding seventh graders. Wayne Wadhams, a retired teacher who volunteers with the track team, said cross country and track and field are sports where seventh- and eighth-graders can be moved up without displacing athletes in grades 9 through 12.

With the APP, 8th graders identified for consideration will need written permission from parents and guardians to participate before there is any evaluation.

The athletic director also needs to confirm the student is suitable for consideration and there needs to be medical clearance to make sure having an eighth-grader play at JV or varsity doesn’t increase the likelihood of injury.

Other steps in the process include:

• Sport Skill Evaluation: sport coach will rely on past personal observations; consider input from the student’s former coaches; if coach is unfamiliar with the student, the coach may observe the student in a physical education class

• Physical Fitness Testing: must be done by a certified physical education teacher

• Qualification Determination: the results of the three evaluations are sent to the director of physical education/athletics

• Try-Outs: student is allowed to try out for the sport and level requested or student must return to the modified level of competition

The entire APP process should take five days or less, Krenning told the BOE.

Krenning told BOE members APP wouldn’t be used to fill spots on teams, but to give higher-skilled eighth-graders a chance to flourish at their sport.

The district hasn’t had a set guideline for identifying exceptional athletes in middle school for the JV or varsity teams. The district now has a set rubric in picking 8th-graders who have a chance to try out for JV or varsity.

Mike Bonnewell, the district superintendent, voiced concern over moving up middle school students who would compete for playing time with 9th through 12th graders. If the 7th and 8th graders stayed on modified, they would still be playing the sport and not cutting into some time for high school athletes. He said cross country, track and field and swimming are exceptions.

In cross country everyone can run the race, except at Sectionals which is limited to the seven top runners from a school. Swimming and track and field can always add heats or expand an event to accommodate more athletes.

The board opted to allow 8th graders to move up if they meet the standards, and will look at the policy again next school year to discuss whether it makes sense to allow 7th graders to be on JV or varsity teams.

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