After years of debate, the Shoreham-Wading River’s athletics program now has a “selective classification” policy on the books.
The district’s school board unanimously approved the new guideline at its July 9 meeting; the policy codifies how middle school students can be brought up to varsity or junior varsity sports under a specific set of guidelines.
The board vote was needed after district officials learned the athletic program needed to officially “opt in” to selective classification.
According to the policy, a student athlete who is in at least seventh grade and has exceptional ability must be recommended to join a higher level team by the varsity coach.
The student needs his or her parent’s permission and a unanimous consensus of the athletic director, middle school principal, middle school guidance counselor and one middle school core academic teacher after an academic and disciplinary review.
Finally, the athlete needs medical clearance, to pass a fitness test and be evaluated by the varsity coach before being allowed to tryout for the varsity or junior varsity team.
Selective classification is intended to allow gifted athletes who are otherwise not challenged in their own age group to join a higher level of competition.
Until the policy was approved, Shoreham-Wading River was one of the few districts in Suffolk County without an official selective classification policy, according to a previous News-Review report.
The new policy removes the Board of Education from the selection procedure, something that had caused controversy in the past.
In late February, just prior to the start of the spring sports season, athletic director Mark Passamonte outlined the new policy to the Board of Education. The board authorized Passamonte to follow the “spirit of the policy” for the spring season. The board wanted to make a few minor tweaks in the wording of the policy before officially adopting it.