Our athletic program offers middle school students the opportunity to play various sports on interscholastic teams. Seventh and eighth graders may participate in PIAA league sports (cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball) as well as non-PIAA ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling and instructional football. Fifth and sixth graders may participate in non-PIAA basketball, ice hockey and lacrosse, instructional field hockey and swimming.
To fulfill the overall mission of Wyoming Seminary “to be responsive to the needs of individual students while providing a challenging program to develop the mind and body,” the administration and faculty of the Lower School are committed to supporting various interscholastic team sports for boys and girls in grades seven and eight (grades five through eight in non-PIAA sports). We regard the purpose of competitive athletics for middle school students as manifold: the conditioning and development of the athletes’ bodies; the teaching of the fundamental rules, skills and strategies of particular team sports; the inculcation of fair play and sportsmanship; the cultivation of team objectives and teamwork; and the training of young athletes for participation at the next level on Upper School teams.
Finally, to justify an ambitious program of competitive athletics in the middle school grades, we believe that it is essential for our student-athletes to make a commitment to their Wyoming Seminary teams. To wit, players who do not attend practices for other than unavoidable medical or religious reasons should not expect to play in games. Moreover, players who miss games for other than unavoidable medical or religious reasons may jeopardize their status as members of a particular Wyoming Seminary Lower School team.
Because of the potential liability concerns, it is essential: 1) that parents communicate to coaches and the trainer or school nurse specifics of medical consultations/diagnoses and recommended treatments from doctors seen under parental auspices off campus; 2) written medical clearances to play must be given by parents to coach or trainer after any doctor’s visit, and the school must retain copies of such clearances. The school, in turn, will communicate with parents full particulars of athletic related medical situations which Sem personnel have handled or overseen.
Furthermore, coaches shall be required to include in any written information given to players and parents before the start of a season the gist of the following:
On injuries and medical clearances to resume play, Sem expects that parents will be honest and informative with coaches and school medical personnel concerning athletic-related injury examinations arranged by parents off-campus. Sem coaches are not allowed to play students following any noticed athletic injury without clearance from our trainer or medical director, OR a written clearance from an off-campus doctor, a copy of which a coach or trainer must retain. We all want to strike a balance between enabling student athletes to practice and compete and to endure through minor physical discomfort on the one hand, and their future health and welfare both as athletes and human beings on the other.
Finally, appropriate forms for PIAA or non-PIAA sports must be handed in at the start of the season, before formal practices or any competition takes place. All athletes who are earning an F or two D’s are ineligible for both practice and games for one week (from Monday to Sunday) after the eligibility list is circulated. Prior to missing a class for an athletic event, the Lower School athlete takes full responsibility to communicate with his/her teachers for fulfilling his/her academic obligations.
An athlete must be in school at least half of the day (by 11:35 a.m.) in order to be eligible for that day’s practice or game. Exceptions may be made by the dean.
• The Sem athlete respects coaches, captains and fellow players, as allies in a common endeavor to play well and win the game. While willing to offer constructive suggestion, no athlete undermines or “runs down” a fellow player or a coach. Coaches emphasize positive reinforcement and specific, constructive criticism. Fostering team morale and loyalty is a prime athletic virtue at Sem.
• Visiting teams, referees and spectators are respected as guests of the school. Baiting of opponents, spectators, or referees is totally unacceptable. Sem fans, including students, parents and friends and guests of the school, cheer for the Sem team, and not against – particularly in terms of any personal vilification – the other team.
• Decisions of game officials must be respected as honest attempts to enforce the mutually necessary rules of the game. Sem athletes understand and respect the rules of the game, and seek to gain no unfair or underhanded advantage by circumventing the rules.
• The athlete who is in control is an effective athlete. An athlete, coach or fan who loses his or her cool gives amusement and satisfaction to the opponent and can be an embarrassment to our team and school. Students, either on the field or in the stands may be subject to school discipline for flagrant breaches of decorum and sportsmanship which bring disrespect on the school.
• Wyoming Seminary’s philosophy in athletics, like that of any good independent school, is that athletics are part of education; winning is desirable, but losing can be educational and even a triumph when the team has given its best. Coaches, players, and fans are generous in victory and gracious in defeat.
ADDENDUM TO THE CODE FOR PARENTS
By the time a student at Sem is engaged in interscholastic competition, the athlete is most in need of perspective, generally positive reinforcement, and mature example from parents – not intense pressure, specific coaching or uncritical boosterism.
Except in very rare instances, Sem coaches, though they are professional educators rather than professional coaches, are more qualified than the parents to coach their son or daughter. And in the extremely rare instances where this may not be the case, it is the coach, not the parent, who has the overall responsibility for the team, while attempting to do the best by and for your student.
Not only is it extremely important that parents abide by the spirit of Sem’s Athletic Code above, but that they set a good example by such actions as applauding opponents’ good plays as well as our own teams'.
It is almost impossible for a parent to be the best judge of his or her student’s athletic ability and achievement. Parents inevitably tend either to give their own child an edge or to be too hard on them. The coach, for better or for worse, is a necessary objective arbiter.
Just as Wyoming Seminary encourages each student to be responsible for communicating with teachers, Sem athletes should take responsibility in approaching their coaches. In only the most exceptional circumstances is it appropriate for a parent to act as an intermediary or intercessor with a coach. Parents are certainly encouraged, however, to discuss serious concerns they have about any aspect of the Sem athletic program with the coach, the Director of Athletics, or, finally, the Dean.