Untitled Header Image Untitled Header Image Untitled Header Image Untitled Header Image
 

FAQs



Q:

How do I get a spot on the team?

A:

Because we are a family team and community is a high priority, current families have the opportunity to register first each season. We do not have tryouts, but we do have limited space.

Our desire is for all of the kids to have access to individualized coaching, space indoors when needed (especially when early-spring weather frequently requires it), team bus, family banquet, etc. Most of our track & field meets have limited entries, so we strive to keep our numbers such that competition is available to as many of our student-athletes as possible. Because the two teams (CC and T&F) are closely related, we need to keep both sports’ rosters--as well as both genders--in mind. These are just a few of the many factors considered when determining roster sizes.

Registration priority is as follows:

1. Athletes who competed on the Nighthawk teams the previous school year.
2. New athletes in grades 7-11, with preference given to team-siblings of those registering above.
3. Seniors participating in Nighthawk programs for the first time.

Waiting lists are maintained for each season, so if someone drops out before the team meeting, we will contact individuals on the waiting list.

Q:

What if I don’t have any prior athletic experience?

A:

Don’t worry; this is the case with the majority of our team members. We work with each athlete where they are and celebrate every step of progress. We believe that our bodies are made to move and that there are great benefits to working together in a team community towards a common purpose. We are supportive and encouraging. All we ask is that you try your best.

Q:

How many other kids participate?

A:

We typically have 10-15 girls and 10-15 boys on the high school (Varsity and JV) squads and 5-10 girls and 5-10 boys on the middle school (junior high) squads, for a total of about 40 student-athletes. We are limited with regards to how large of a program we can manage. Facility space (e.g., small gyms) is a factor, and program administration and intentional coaching for each student-athlete requires a great deal of volunteer time.

Q:

Does everyone have to practice together, or can I just run on my own?

A:

We are a team, and the team performs its best when everyone is present. Practices affect team unity, morale, and success. There are instances where you will be expected to follow an on-your-own workout, but we have found that training and working hard together with in-person coaching is far more effective and better for improving athleticism and building community.

You are expected to be at all practices and meets on time and for the duration unless prior arrangements have been made well in advance with the head coach. If you anticipate regular absences, contact the coaches before you register to determine if this program will work with your schedule; attendance requirements could limit your eligibility to compete at meets.

Q:

Can I try the Nighthawks for a season and then switch to a public school team?

A:

Yes, but the purpose of our team is longer-term community. If a trial run is your expectation, it would be better to run with your resident district from the beginning.

Q:

If a runner has competed on a school team and wants to join the Nighthawks, would he/she be varsity eligible?

A:

In the spirit of the MSHSL bylaws, we would apply transfer rule protocols as appropriate, which might require a year of JV running unless excepted by other MSHSL provisions (residency change, etc.).

Q:

Where do the team families live?

A:

We have found that an 18-mile radius from Hanover is the maximum for which families can reasonably follow through with their commitment to the team. Although we understand that public, private, and charter schools may have open enrollment policies that draw from much larger geographical areas (there is no MSHSL-defined limit for this), longer distances can become a hindrance to building community, so we have adopted a policy limiting distance. 

If you are a home schooled student living outside our team radius and have questions about participating in interscholastic sports in Minnesota, please let us know, and we'll try to help you navigate the eligibility process in your area.

Q:

Why is registration so early?

A:

The process to form cooperatively sponsored teams under the MSHSL is extensive, requiring much attention to detail. To meet the deadlines (which fall well in advance of each sports season), we need to allow adequate time to collect registrations, double-check paperwork, and then submit applications through a series of approvals.

Q:

What is the refund and late fee policy?

A:

You can find the Refund & Late Fee Policy here.

Q:

How is a team of home schooled student-athletes able to compete in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL)?

A:

Home schools in the State of Minnesota are legal, independent schools. Each family in the coop registers as a home school in their resident district and joins the MSHSL as a separate member school. Each member home school (family) pays annual membership dues and fees, and each is bound to the same league rules as every other member school.

Every season, we form a cooperative sponsorship for each sport (boys and girls are considered separate sports) and request approvals from our Subsection/Section competitors as well as our Region Committee leaders. Once approved, we submit our application paperwork to the league office. It's a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process, but it acknowledges that we embody the values of the MSHSL and are welcome on the field of competition. We appreciate all of the league staff, school athletic directors and coaches, and Region representatives who have supported us along the way.

Q:

Is the number of home schools joining your coop growing?

A:

No, nothing about our coop has substantively changed since we joined the MSHSL in 2015. As families graduate out, new ones come in, and numbers fluctuate with interest.

For cross country, the ideal is to have at least enough kids to have scoring teams at the Varsity, JV, and Junior High levels. At a minimum, a single-gender JV/Varsity cross country team of 14 (7 running JV and 7 running Varsity) typically requires a cooperative sponsorship of a dozen or more home schools. For track & field, the team size is limited by indoor facility space and expected meet entry limits. In general, the cross country and track & field team sizes are similar in order to maintain program balance and community across the two sport seasons.

Q:

Why don't these kids play for their resident public school districts?

A:

Some of our most supportive competitors are traditional school coaches and athletic directors who love the sport and are happy to see more kids participating. We are typically invited to more meets than we can fit into our schedule, so this is not about competing for each other’s athletes but competing with each other to create experiences that bring out the kids’ best. We recognize that the running sports are unique in this sense, versus the “opponent” mentality often seen in other sports. These student-athletes have a great deal of respect for each other and many develop lasting friendships along the way.

Although participating in one's public resident district is allowed by state statute, it is not required. Eligible home schools may choose to become members of the MSHSL and form coops instead. There are a variety of reasons home schools choose the latter route. Most of the time, the Nighthawks includes connections from their coop classes, church, 4-H, etc. While many students who participate with their resident public school have good experiences, we have unfortunately seen that some teams (of various sports) and administrators are not welcoming of home schooled student-athletes.

Fundamentally, our athletes are unreached students who would not be participating in MSHSL activities if not for the Nighthawks.

Q:

Does your team get attention from college recruiters?

A:

Home schooling is a major commitment, and doing so solely for athletic purposes is not advised. The NCAA Eligibility Center makes it challenging for home schooled student-athletes to be recruited at the Division 1 or 2 level where scholarships come into play. Some do go on to compete at the highest collegiate levels, but the process requires meticulous paperwork and must be entered into with great intention. NCAA Division 3 (no athletic scholarships) or NAIA (a different league of typically smaller schools) options tend to be more common with our athletes. Regardless of educational choice (home or traditional school), any student-athlete interested in playing college sports should reach out to coaches directly and not wait to be "discovered."