High school student-athletes can also compete and practice with an out-of-school team, the Vermont Principals’ Association ruled last week, a policy change in response to last fall’s hotly debated topic that involved a local soccer club.
The non-school competition policy, which was voted unanimously by the VPA’s executive council, was a months-long process that began when supporters of the Synergy soccer club approached the VPA.
The rule change brings Vermont up to the speed with other states, said VPA associate director Bob Johnson.
“It got to the point, from our perspective, that the time was right,” Johnson said. “What happened with Synergy, that brought the issue to a head. That began the conversation.”
Last fall, Synergy had wanted to make a trip to an out-of-state weekend tournament during the middle of the soccer season, which would have put the club’s high-school players in violation of VPA’s policy on eligibility limitations.
The club opted not to go, but it sparked a discussion, and then change after several steps.
Johnson said a VPA subcommittee was created to take a closer look. Johnson also said he surveyed the Vermont State Athletic Directors Association.
While the policy allows for a student-athlete to play the same sport in-season, the VPA, like it does with many of its policies, leaves how it is implemented to individual schools.
“We set the baseline for the policy and procedure. Schools have the local control,” said Johnson, who recommends schools add this policy to their athletic handbooks
The policy also states the high school team is the priority over a non-school team.
Soccer, field hockey and cross country begin preseason practices today.