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New school calendar could help with prep athletic clearance process
by Dan Eckles
Aug 11, 2013 | 1675 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Thousands of parents across the Washoe County School District are required to fill out athletic clearance paperwork for their sons and daughters to compete in prep sports.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Thousands of parents across the Washoe County School District are required to fill out athletic clearance paperwork for their sons and daughters to compete in prep sports.
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One of the most time-consuming tasks for local high school athletic directors and their administrative assistants is processing clearance packets for student athletes. All three Sparks-area high schools have hundreds of athletes and that adds up to a lot paperwork that needs review and approval.

Reed, Spanish Springs and Sparks all have experienced methods in place to get their student athletes cleared and on the athletic fields at the appropriate times, but the Washoe County School District’s new calendar should ease the burden a bit.

In years past, fall athletic programs have started official practices two or more weeks before the first day of school. In many instances, teams had already held tryouts and picked rosters before the initial day of classes. That won’t be the case this year. Monday marks the first day of school, but fall prep sports in the Silver State, with the exception of football, do not begin until Aug. 19. Football starts a week earlier.

“Athletic clearance should be extremely easier,” Spanish Springs athletic director Art Anderson said. “The fact that we have a whole week of school before even starting tryouts is an absolute excellent opportunity. We were clearing kids at the end of last year to get a jump on it but this makes it easier.”

Reed athletic director Ron Coombs had similar sentiments.

"We held clearance dates in July and we’ve done that every year I’ve been here,” he said. “That’s really to get a head start on paperwork. The clearance paperwork, there’s a lot to it. Every detail has to be filled in. You can’t skip paces … But we’ll still continue to clear kids this coming week without question.”

At Sparks High, athletic director Rob Kittrell said the first week of school, before athletic practices, should provide a nice buffer to clear the stragglers and help clear up last-minute issues. He said the week should really help freshmen more than anything.

“This first week of school should really help with freshmen, the kids who haven’t quite figured out what all this high school stuff is about,” Kittrell said. “Football wise, we’ve always tried to get kids cleared by the end of July. That’s never been much of an issue but when you look at the other sports, we’re always scrambling getting caught up. This will help.”

All three ADs concurred that the week of school before practices kick off should help the lesser profile sports like cross country and tennis.

“I’m a huge proponent of this new calendar,” Anderson said. “This makes it easier and gives our coaches time to recruit some athletes before practices begin … The downside to the old calendar was we’d see teams picked before school even began. Most of the tough conversations I had with parents came after the school year started and it was about a lack of knowledge. They didn’t know.

“With this new calendar, it’s almost like we’re working in reverse. Instead of being a week behind at the beginning of school, it’s now like we’ll be a week ahead.”

Kittrell pointed out that his school has less than 1,200 students, so it needs to share student athletes and get as many kids out for athletic programs as it can. The free week before sport practices begin can only help his school.

“We can really hit up these freshmen in that first week to try and get them involved,” Kittrell said. “Hopefully, we can get more freshmen out. These first five days we can be out recruiting. That’s very important. We didn’t have a girls golf team the last two years. I know we’ve got a few interested and maybe we can get a few more. Our boys tennis team is at three right now. So we can work hard to fill that and cross country numbers have always been low. So maybe we get a few more there too.”

Brian Rothe is the WCSD’s coordinator of activities and athletics. He doesn’t think the new calendar will make much difference when it comes to streamlining paperwork. He added that’s because schools across the district have perennially done a great job getting athletes cleared prior to the start of the season.

“Our people are a little more proactive so we haven’t had much of a problem,” Rothe said. “Our schools are staffed so well in the summer. All these coaches run pretty good summer programs and they’re pretty much communicating with the kids all the time. I just think our people do a good job.”

That may indeed be the case, but the calendar certainly won’t hurt the plight of local athletic staffs. It’s likely also to have fringe benefits beyond the ones mentioned.

“We’re not going to be breathing down our coaches’ throats to get kids cleared. This is the best-case scenario for fall sports. In the past, our football team was playing a game before school started. Our other sports were playing games the first week of school. That won’t be the case now. We’re going to get more kids involved playing sports and going to games. I just see this as a huge positive.”
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