A potentially influential rule change for Verde Valley high school sports teams was approved by the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s legislative council during its meeting in Phoenix on Friday, March 3.
Winning by a wide margin, 39-5, the measure grants high school coaches to have organized practices with their respective teams year-round. Before, they only could during their particular season or during summer, from the last day of school until the first day of August. The change goes into effect July 1.
“I think it’s going to help us to know that we’re going to have competent coaches always working with the kids, and to have continuity,” Sedona Red Rock High School Athletic Director Tom Miller said. “Because their coaches during their season are also the coaches that are teaching them the same thing and have the same expectations in the offseason.”
Miller, a proponent of the change, was not concerned about Scorpions coaches pressuring athletes to play one sport year-round. Considering the school’s small population and abundance of multi-sport athletes, much like the other high schools in the Verde Valley, it is a noteworthy detail to watch during the coming seasons.
Mark Showers, Camp Verde High School’s athletic director, felt the same way, adding that each school will be responsible for policing its coaches.
“It will be up to the independent school to monitor their coaches getting kids to specialize,” Showers said. “At Camp Verde High School we don’t allow that.”
He continued on to acknowledge the advantages of being a multi-sport athlete.
“[They] are more well-rounded, better in school, the benefits are overwhelming,” said Showers, adding it helps prevents overuse injuries as well.
Showers, also a supporter, introduced what the change means from the perspective of schools similar to those of the Verde Valley.
“One thing we talked about as athletic directors is that rural schools don’t have the same opportunities as the metro-area schools,” Showers said. “I think it will benefit the rural schools, but overall time will tell if it’s a good thing or not.”
While the rule change gives coaches the opportunity to practice regularly with their teams, it doesn’t mean that all will take advantage.
“It’s hard to say [what percentage of teams will], most schools don’t pay coaches to do the work [in the offseason]. They do it on their own dime,” Showers said.
The legislative council’s meeting notes also reflect an amendment made to AIA Bylaw 23.8, which addresses the use of helmets and shoulder pads during offseason training for football, takes immediate effect in time for spring football.
Bylaw 23.8.1, states “Instruction is limited to non-contact activities, and the only school equipment which may not be used out-of-season is helmets and shoulder pads.”