Pan­ning the list

School district dis­cour­ag­ing the post­ing of team ros­ters on bul­letin boards


School ath­letes won­der­ing whether they’ve made a sports team would have pre­vi­ously been used to look­ing for an an­swer on a post­ing made to a school bul­letin board. The East­ern School District is now en­cour­ag­ing coaches to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach that’s more sen­si­tive to the po­ten­tial dis­ap­point­ment ex­pe­ri­enced by those who fail to make a team.

Stu­dents clam­our­ing to get a peek at the school bas­ket­ball ros­ter posted on a bul­letin board may soon be a thing of the past, fol­low­ing a new rec­om­men­da­tion put for­ward to those han­dling ath­let­ics within the East­ern School District.

Within the district’s ath­let­ics pol­icy is a reg­u­la­tion stat­ing, “Once a team is se­lected, it is rec­om­mended that suc­cess­ful team mem­bers be in­formed in a way that re­spects the sen­si­tiv­i­ties of stu­dents not mak­ing the team.”

This rec­om­men­da­tion, says district spokesper­son Mary Tucker, en­cour­ages coaches to in­form play­ers in­volved in the try­out process about who did or did not make a ros­ter through means other than a bul­letin board post­ing.

“It’s all about (be­ing) safe and car­ing, and be­ing re­spect­ful and sen­si­tive to the feel­ings of stu­dents,” says Tucker, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for East­ern School District.

“It is a com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment, and there’s a lot to learn, but for those chil­dren who don’t make the team, by be­ing able to deal with it in their own pri­vate way first, we feel it’s an im­por­tant part of this pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tion.”

The rec­om­men­da­tion was made late in the spring and brought about through the district’s re­view of the ath­let­ics pol­icy, which has been on­go­ing over the last two years, ac­cord­ing to Tucker.

Based on feed­back re­ceived from par­ents, coaches, teach­ers, and ath­let­ics di­rec­tors, Tucker says it be­came ap­par­ent there was a need to in­tro­duce new mea­sures to en­cour­age ways of deal­ing more sen­si­tively with a stu­dent’s po­ten­tial dis­ap­point­ment over not mak­ing a school sports team.

“ When a child doesn’t make a team, he’s got to deal with those emo­tions of dis­ap­point­ment in a pub­lic way, where if they just got an e-mail, phone call, or let­ter from the coach and had an op­por­tu­nity to ab­sorb the in­for­ma­tion first, then it will be a lit­tle bit eas­ier for the player to deal with.”

The district’s ac­tive and healthy liv­ing pro­gram spe­cial­ist, John Elkins, de­vel­oped a tem­plate let­ter to al­low a coach to in­put the names of those who tried out for a team and cre­ate a stan­dard­ized let­ter.

“ In a let­ter to the stu­dents who didn’t make a team, it would be rec­om­mended they con­tinue to play in in­tra­mu­ral and house-league sports and de­velop their skills,” Tucker says, “and also talk to their phys-ed teacher about what they need to do, or talk to the coach about what they need to do to im­prove their skills for next year.”

Mak­ing letters for each stu­dent who at­tempts to make a school team may ap­pear to be a time-con­sum­ing task for coaches used to mak­ing one list to post on a bul­letin board. Tucker says the tem­plate let­ter does sim­plify the process.

“ We’ve got­ten pretty good feed­back,” she says. “Some of the ath­letic di­rec­tors have felt the let­ter was a good idea. You’re not go­ing to make ev­ery­body happy, but we feel it’s a good rec­om­men­da­tion.”

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