The Vermont Principals Association
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How many years of eligibility does a student have in high school sports?

Answer – every student has 4 years of eligibility. The eligibility clock starts running when the student enters grade 9. It continues through the next 4 years whether a student participates in a sport or not.

Is there an age requirement to participate in high school sports?

Answer – there is a maximum age requirement, but not a minimum requirement. Students who in grades 9 through 12 cannot turn 19 years old after August 1st of their Senior year. If they turn 19 years old before August 1st, they are ineligible to compete. If they turn 19 after August 1st, they can become eligible if an age waiver is requested by the school and approved by the VPA.

If a student receives a diploma, but wishes to return to school for a 5th year, are they eligible to participate in sports even if they meet the age requirement and have not participated in a sport for more than 4 years?

Answer – No. Once a student has received a diploma, their ability to participate in high school activities has come to an end.

Can a student participate in more than one sport per season?

Answer – Yes. This is a local school decision, but from the VPA’s perspective, you can participate in more than one sport per season. Some schools have local policies that prohibit this, so a student who would like to do this should check with their Athletic Director to see if it is permissible.

Are students required to have health insurance coverage before participating in high school activities?

Answer – Yes. All students are required by VPA rules to have some sort of health insurance coverage. This is done for the protection of both the student and the school. There is an inherent risk of injury whenever a student participates in sports. If a student does not have health insurance coverage, we encourage the parents/guardians to work with the local school to see what options are available.

Does the VPA require students to have “physicals” before they participate in high school sports or activities?

Answer – No. This is a local school decision. The VPA supports all students having physicals before participation in local high school activities. These physicals can give the schools information on the medical needs of the student. Almost all schools require a sports physical, but whether they need to be done yearly or every other year, is a decision that lies with the local school. The VPA does encourage the use of the “Wellness Exam” that is promoted by the Vermont Department of Health.

Can a student participate on a school team and non-school team at the same time?

Answer – Yes. VPA rules allow for a student to participate on a non-school team during the same time they are on a school team. Our expectation is that the school team becomes the first priority in terms of meeting practice and game requirements, however if this is done, participation on a non-school team is allowed.

How is a school’s athletic schedule determined in terms of how many games are played and who the school will play.

Answer – The VPA determines the minimum and maximum number of games a school can play in a season. In order to participate in the state tournament, a school must participate in a minimum of 60% of the maximum number of games allowed per season (example: soccer allows a maximum of 14 games in the regular season. A school must play 8 games to be eligible for the tournament).

Who the school plays, is determined by the school itself. Most schools belong to one of three organizations. The Northern Vermont Athletic Conference (NVAC) which is primarily larger schools in northern Vermont, the Central Vermont League (CVL) which is primarily smaller schools in central and eastern Vermont, or the Marble Valley League (MVL) which represents large and small schools in southern Vermont. Within a school’s league/conference, a number of games are assigned, however a small number of games are not assigned and a school can play non-league games with anyone they want. Membership in a league is voluntary.

How many games can a school play during a season?

Answer – the maximum number of games allowed in the Fall season is 14 (with the exception of football which has a 9 game season). In the Winter season it is 20 and in the Spring season it is 16. Schools do not have to play the maximum number of games. In order to qualify for the post season, schools have to play a minimum of 60% of the regular season maximum. So, in the Fall, you need to play a minimum of 8 games, in the Winter it is 12 games and in the Spring it is 10 games.

How many teams can enter into a tournament?

With the exception of football, up to 16 teams can enter a tournament. The 16 teams are determined by the index point average. Schools receive points for wins and additional points for wins against higher division teams or playing a team on the road. This year, schools can also receive additional points for a loss against a higher division team. The 16 teams with the highest index point average are accept into the tournament.

Football does have a different point index that takes a number of factors into consideration. In football, 8 teams qualify for the D1 and D3 post season tournament, while 4 teams qualify in the D 2 post season tournament. This is due to the number of teams in each division.

If a high school students participates in the Early College Program, can they play on a college team and then  return to play on a high school team?

No. High school students who participate in the Early College Program may not participate on a collegiate team, but can still play on the high school teams from where they attended as long as they have not received a diploma or have been in high school for more than 4 consecutive years. Collegiate rules are very clear.  Only students who have received a  high school diploma (and meet collegiate academic requirements) are eligible to participate in collegiate sports.