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Club sports in county schools may soon come under the direction of Bedford County Public Schools, if a proposed policy is adopted by the school board.
Several area residents urged board members to do just that at a meeting last Thursday.
Jennifer Willoughby said the proposed policy ensures student standards while allowing for flexibility at each individual school. She said the schools don’t have to be “mirror images” of each other.
Willoughby said the policy would provide structure as well as allowing for the “grass roots movement” of those who want a sport to be provided in the community. She added that it gives communities the opportunity to pursue sports that students there are passionate about.
Current sports that could be affected by the policy include B-Team baseball and softball as well as lacrosse.
BCPS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Cherie Whitehurst said that, absent approval of a policy by the board, the school system would have to stop supporting club sports at the schools.
The policy provides the framework for establishing, conducting, supervising and financing club sports teams, as well as establishing eligibility standards for students who participate.
Club sports can be individual-oriented as well as team-oriented.
The policy would allow club sports teams to compete in regular season play against Virginia High School League school teams. Club sports would also be able to participate in local demonstrations, shows or contests with the proper permission.
The policy would call for the club sports to utilize school board facilities and transportation for meetings, practices and official events. Those could only be used when varsity and junior varsity teams aren’t using them.
Club sports would have to be supervised by an employee of the school system who is willing to act as the sponsor or coach. The club sponsor or coach, and any associated stipend, would be subject to the same recommendation and approval as implemented for varsity team coaches.
Financing of club sports would be the responsibility of the participants, including equipment and uniforms, coaching stipends and transportation costs. Proceeds from ticket sales would be retained by the school.
Under the policy, club sports would be governed by VHSL rules.
The parent of a student participating would have to provide proof of medical insurance coverage as a condition of their child participating in a club sport. Participants would not be covered by VHSL Catastrophic Insurance.
Club sports participants would not be eligible for a varsity school letter.
Tom Norvelle also spoke in favor of the policy. He said the policy would increase fairness among the schools. “The policy is fiscally responsible,” he said of it not costing the school system any funds.