Parents and athletes must be knowledgeable of the AIA rules to keep from violating them. High school or club coaches do not always know the correct interpretation of rules or their ramifications. When issues come along it is the kids that are penalized by the AIA.
Read the letter below describing how an innocent attempt to create a recruiting tape almost cost several girls their opportunity to participate with their high school teams at the state tournament. Beware of camps, open gyms, outdoor tournament or play opportunities during any portion of the high school season - this is the from first day of tryouts to the last day of state championships. Don't let any club coach or director tell you otherwise. It is not worth jeopardizing eligibility to participate in any of these types of events during the season - even if you think your season is over.
Dear Coaches & Friends,
Our family just experienced something unexpected and unpleasant which could have had major repercussions for our daughter, Bree, and some volleyball players and coaches who were involved. Please share this e-mail with everyone you know who is involved with teens playing any type of high school sports.
NAU requested a volleyball skills tape from Bree. We discussed it with our high school coaches who offered to stay late after practice to help her create the tape. After a few weeks passed with busy schedules of practices and games, the tape wasn't created. The NAU recruiter continued to ask about the status of her tape, wanting it asap. Close friends in our volleyball world offered to help us. Our high school coach was aware and approved this being done. We met at another high school during non-practice time, and with the gracious help of that high school coach, a few of that school's varsity players who volunteered their free time, and a club coach, Bree's skills tape was created.
Less than a week later, our high school coach realized this may have been an AIA violation. It was brought to the attention of our athletic director. During our meeting with both the coach and athletic director, we were told they planned to report this possible violation to the AIA. If found guilty, Bree and any high school player who helped her, would receive sanctions...kicked off their high school volleyball teams. We confirmed this with AIA. Although both high school coaches were aware before the tape was created, sanctions would be imposed on the students, not the coaches or athletic directors.
We requested the rule be read to us from the AIA manual. It defined "play or practice" with other high school players or coaches as a violation. Being that Bree did not play or practice with other players or receive instruction from other coaches, we felt like there was no violation. We called the AIA. They define "play" as ANY exchange of ball between two players not within the same high school, during high school season, period. Taping was not the issue at all. The exchange of ball, even if for fun, is one issue. The presence of another coach, whether high school or club, even if in fun, is another issue. This means playing at Kingdom Court, at the park, in your backyard...could all be violations under the AIA definition of "play."
You can imagine how upset our family was knowing other girls who generously gave their time to help our daughter, absolutely nothing to gain for themselves, could be kicked off their high school team during their senior year. This would have a major impact on State Tournaments and the lives of these girls who are all starters for their high school volleyball team.
Today we received a call from our athletic director. AIA admitted that although the rule is clear, the communication about it, the manual, etc., was not up to date and appeared as a gray area regarding the definition of play. AIA requested the athletic directors of both high schools involved conduct an investigation and make a decision on whether or not to officially report this incident. Both high school athletic directors agreed that this information was not common knowledge and that all students involved did not intentionally violate AIA rules. Most high school and club coaches are even unaware of this AIA rule and interpreted "play and practice" the same way we did. The investigation ended and it was determined that an official report to AIA will not be submitted and there will be no sanctions against Bree or the other students. However, this was a one-time exception for all sports teams in all high schools.
All of us, parents included, need to know AIA rules and not count on the adults in charge to inform us or protect our children. I asked our athletic director to include this important bit of information in the parent orientation for all sports teams. He said the parent meetings would last four to five hours if he talked about all the rules involved. So it's up to us to share this information. Things have changed in the college recruitment world and players are now having to market themselves, which involves creating skills tapes. Please share this information with everyone involved with any high school sports.
The Homsey Family