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Playing Public School Sports

ELEMENTARY AGED STUDENTS: Students can participate in basketball at the local elementary schools. This is still considered "rec ball" through Bradley County Sports and Rec (main office on Peerless Road.) You will need to contact the school about when try outs are and your student will need to "make" the team in order to play. You must try out at the local school where you are zoned. All sign up info can be done through the school or at the main office. I personally prefer dealing with the main office since some people at the schools' offices may not know what to do for your homeschooler.

Baseball and Football are done through Bradley County Sports and Rec on Peerless Rd, not through the schools.

Soccer is done through Greater Cleveland Soccer Organization on Mouse Creek.

MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: All of our local public schools (middle and high) are under TSSAA organization for sports. They passed a law a couple of years ago allowing homeschoolers to participate in public school sports being under the TSSAA Home School Rule. You can find the details here: http://tssaa.org/compliance-publications/tssaa-home-school-rule/.

In order to do this, here are a number of things that you must do:

1) Register as an independent homeschooler with the LEA (my experience has been with Bradley County Schools so I will list my personal experience with them. If anyone has done this through Cleveland City Schools, please post the steps you need to take with them. It is under my impression you have to do both City and County schools for Cleveland City.) This is FREE to do this. This must be done by August 1st of the current school year. Even if the sport is a spring sport, you must stick with the August 1st deadline or your child will not be eligible. You can pick up your forms (only two forms) at the Bradley County Schools main office on South Lee Hwy OR you can print the form here on our website (Intent to Homeschool Form.) Then, you will need to get your personal high school diploma or GED certificate and your students vaccines records (if you do not do vaccines, exempt of vaccines for religious reasons letter) and turn those in with your completed Intent to Homeschool Form. Depending on which school district you are registering with, the person will vary. Gary Austin is the contact person for Bradley County Schools. Once you do that, you are registered and good to go with the next steps. Gary Austin has been very nice and helpful and more than willing to work with me. PLEASE NOTE: Grades 5th, 7th and 9th are required to do state testing. You can ask for approval to do the testing that BCHE offers or you may do the testing through the schools. Contact the schools testing admin in the early spring time to do know what exactly you need to do for this.

2) Go to the middle school or high school where you are zoned or choose to play. Request to meet with the athletic director of that school. Here is a list of what the athletic director may need:

  • Physical Packet that the athletic director will give you. Most of this will need to be filled out by your doctor. There is a concussion form that you and your student will both need to read over and sign.

  • Letter of Intent to participate in sports. You will need to list all the sports that your student is interested in for the whole year. The schools offer a variety, so once you meet with the athletic director, they can tell you which sports they offer and when so you know which ones to list.

  • Class List and Grades from previous school year

  • Letter listing all classes to be taught for the current school year. List student's name, grade, school year, address, etc. I wrote up a list listing the subject name and the curriculum name next to it. Then, at the end of the year, I put a grade next to it, making this also function as his grade report. I also sign the bottom to make it "official." You can be as brief or as specific as you would like.

  • Letter of eligibility from your health insurance company. BCBS mails this me when I call them to request it. If you have a Christian Medical Share type of coverage, you will just need a letter stating that you are a part of that program.

  • Letter of Liability Insurance. THIS IS THE ONE THAT CAUSES THE MOST CONFUSION. Here is what is stated on the tssaa.org site in regards to this topic: "The home school student must provide proof of basic primary medical insurance coverage and liability insurance coverage which names the TSSAA as an insured party in the event the school’s insurance provider does not extend coverage to students enrolled in home school programs." This is what the man at TSSAA explained to me personally: Let's say your child has a bad game and goes into the locker room and has a throwing fit and causes damage to the locker room. Someone is liable to pay for that. Bradley County Schools do not have homeschoolers listed as covered by them (some other school systems may, I know that BCS do not.) So, homeschoolers have to have coverage for that. Which is covered by our homeowner’s insurance. It isn't an additional policy. It would be the same thing as if your child threw a baseball at someone's house window. So, you will need to go to your homeowner's insurance company and show them that little piece of info and tell them you need a form listing your student's name as insured. My policy is with Farm Bureau and they have been awesome. They typically mail or fax the form to the school themselves.

So, after all that is completed, you contact the athletic director again and meet with them to turn all the completed forms, paperwork and documents above to them. They will start the process and then contact you when your student is approved to participate. The process can take many weeks because the paperwork has to be approved by the school's principal, the home office, tssaa, etc. Make sure to get dates on when things (conditioning, try outs, etc.) will happen because they can forget to keep you informed.

Also, remember...your student will have to "make" the team as well. You could go through all this and have your student not make the team.

Homeschoolers CAN be under their umbrella school and still participate in public school sports. Home Life Academy has info listed on their website stating that if you use an umbrella school for record keeping purposes only, you are not considered to be enrolled in the private school. HOWEVER, you still must register with the LEA also (see step #1).

TSSAA prevents students from playing public school sports and homeschool sports at the same time. You can read more on their rules from the link I posted above.

IMPORTANT ADVICE:

  • Turn in all paperwork several weeks in advance.

  • Know what you need to have and stay organized – don’t expect them to stay organized for you.

  • Communicate clearly and often. Show grace to others in the school system – this is new for them too.

  • Stay flexible and don’t have high expectations. You might get a last minute call, but everything will be all right in the end.

  • High school athletic coaches want to win games/matches. They are probably willing to go out on a limb if your son or daughter is going to help the team win overall. Don’t blame it on the school if the child gets cut from the team. Just because you are a homeschooled student doesn’t automatically guarantee your spot on the team. Be intentional about helping with fundraising and getting your child to all “optional” practices and/or sporting events.

  • Express your gratitude along the way (and make sure you are grateful for the opportunities that God has given to you).

  • Remember that this is not just about you. We are representatives of the homeschooling community at large, so please behave! Your understanding demeanor today could open the doors for the homeschool students of tomorrow.

  • It is ok to be firm, but don’t come across as a know-it-all.


 

If you have any other questions, please contact Devon Simmons at devonsimmons@charter.net.