GATE CITY -- The Scott County School Board implemented a new policy earlier this month that formalizes a series out guidelines for out-of-season practice for student-athletes.
Scott County Public Schools Superintendent John Ferguson said the system felt it needed to implement a formal policy after the Virginia High School League did away with its guidelines last year governing out-of-season practice.
“Some schools have enacted it, and some have not,” Ferguson said. “Up until this year it was just a mutual understanding with the coaches, but when this was discussed with the secondary principals they felt they needed to put some guidelines in place. As a result, this is what we're going to go with for the present time, if it's felt any changes need to be made, the policy will be updated accordingly.”
Among the guidelines included in the policy is a ban on full-contact spring practice and the use of shoulder pads in the off-season for high school football teams.
“We don't want to jeopardize any students getting hurt before the season begins,” Ferguson said.
The guidelines also require coaches to follow all dead periods set by the VHSL and bar students from quitting one sport and beginning another when the first sport is still in season.
Coaches must also not allow an athlete to participate in an in-season sport and leave to participate in an out-of-season sport. That guideline also applies to open gyms and practices.
Ferguson said the guidelines were needed to strike a balance between athletics and education.
“No matter how good of an athlete they are, we want them to excel on the field as well as the classroom we don't want to jeopardize that,” Ferguson said. “We want the kids to be active and participate, but at the same time we don't want them to get burnt out.”
Students are also required to have current physical and parent-athlete concussion awareness forms on file with their respective schools to participate, and coaches must complete the VHSL approval process before they can supervise out-of-season activities.