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St. Lawrence Central seventh-graders may be eligible for some varsity sports

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BRASHER FALLS - Some St. Lawrence Central School seventh-graders may be eligible to play select varsity sports under an extracurricular handbook change that the district’s board of education will be asked to approve.

Athletic Director Timothy Wagoner said that, under the current handbook, only eighth graders are eligible to test for and play in some select sports.

“The previous handbook only allowed eighth graders to move up to varsity. This is a change. We have not allowed seventh graders (to participate),” he said.

However, Mr. Wagoner said, with the cutting of some junior varsity sports a few years ago, they began looking at allowing seventh graders to perform on some varsity teams if they were physically and mentally ready.

“With numbers down, we hope to get our numbers up to par,” he said.

The seventh graders wouldn’t be eligible for participation in all varsity sports, he said. For many of them, it would be individual-type sports, “where they’re competing against the clock rather than playing up against another kid that’s 18 years old,” Mr. Wagoner said.

“It’s not going to affect all sports. It’s more like cheerleading, swimming, girls’ ice hockey and softball. It’s not going to be your contact sports. I don’t think you’ll ever see a football, hockey or lacrosse seventh-grader. Golf would be a great one. You have an 11 year old playing in the U.S. Open,” Mr. Wagoner said.

He noted that Oswego won a state title in girls’ hockey a couple of years ago with a seventh grader on their team. Under the change, seventh graders would be eligible for the district’s girls’ hockey team if they were physically and mentally ready, he said.

The students would need to pass a rigorous physical fitness test before a determination was made about their selection for a varsity team, according to the athletic director. The tests vary by sport, he said.

“The hardest one is lacrosse,” Mr. Wagoner said, noting it includes running a mile-and-a-half in 11 minutes, running a 50-yard dash in 6.5 seconds, doing 50 sit-ups in a minute and hanging by their arms for 30 seconds.

“They have to pass everything,” He said.

A test may be involved for competitive cheerleading, which he said was just labeled as a sport and involves stunts. There is also traditional cheerleading, which would not be affected.

“We thought they were both going to be a sport. As of last week it’s just the competitive, where they do stunts. They have to come up with the standards for that test,” Mr. Wagoner said.

Once students pass a local physical fitness test , they would have to undergo another one at the section level.

“There are certain satellites where all the kids go for all the schools. For four days in August, they’re allowed to go and try to pass those,” Mr. Wagoner said.

Among the other changes to the handbook is the procedures for violations. He said that previously they had to develop a committee, which would interview the student who was accused of a violation. Under the change, building administrators will meet with students to determine if a violation occurred.

Assembling a committee to interview the student would pose problems during vacation periods, he said.

“How are you going to put a committee together when you’re off for 14 days?” Mr. Wagoner said. “It was more of a drawn-out process. This is a little more straightforward.”

Penalties for violations are also addressed in the new handbook.

“It’s more black and white if a student was to violate the code,” he said.

For the first violation, the student would have to sit out 25 percent of that sport’s season.

“Depending on which sport they play, it could be three games or it could be five games because every sport has a different amount of games that they play,” Mr. Wagoner said.

A second penalty would mean a student would sit out 50 percent of the season, and they would be done for the season with a third violation.

There is also a carry-over effect, meaning if a penalty was imposed at the end of one sports season, it could carry over into the next sports season.

Under the handbook changes, athletes would also sign a document indicating that they understand the training rules, and that signature would be valid for the entire school year.

“If they play a fall sport, but don’t play a winter sport and play a spring sport, they’re still held to those standards through the winter season. They’re not off the code,” he said.

The new handbook will address not only athletics, but all extracurricular activities, such as Student Council, National Honor Society and the French and Spanish Club, according to Mr. Wagoner.

“Basically what we’re trying to do is combine the athletic handbook with all the extracurriculars. Mr. Wagoner and a group of people have been working on it to try to get things integrated,” Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. said.

Mr. Wagoner said that, once the board has approved the revisions, he will get handbooks out to coaches, parents and athletes in August and also go over the changes during his coaches meeting.

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