Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Spring Break or Varsity Sports?

PHHS baseball practice | photo by Olivia Uribe
PHHS baseball practice | photo by Olivia Uribe

As spring break approaches, varsity athletes at Pascack Hills High School must choose between receiving a varsity letter or going on vacation with friends or family; and some are not happy to be receiving such an ultimatum.

According to Hills Vice Principal and Athletic Director Phil Paspalas, each coach sets the expectations for their team. However, most students are under the impression that if a varsity player makes the decision to go on vacation during spring break instead of to attend mandatory practices, they will not be able to receive their varsity letter at the end of the spring sports season.

This policy has also been established at Glen Rock High School and at Northern Highlands in Allendale. Both schools have policies regarding vacation during breaks in their student handbooks.

Glen Rock’s student handbook states, “It is up to the athlete to decide if he/she is willing to make the commitment and sacrifice vacation periods, however, in recognition of the athlete’s need to be with family during a vacation period… Athletes are expected to be present for athletic practices and games during vacations. If athletes must be absent and miss a game, they must sit out a game when they return.”

Glen Rock High school says they don’t require students to stay home for break if they are on a sport team, but there is the expectation that they will be there.

Northern Highlands appears to be a bit more strict in their policy. Their athletic information packet states, “It should be understood that any athlete in grades 10-12 who will not be available during a school vacation period in a particular sport’s season should not try out for the sport. Sophomore, Junior, and Senior athletes who do not participate in their sport during vacation periods will be dismissed from the team.”

Although Pascack Hills does not have a universal written policy for the athletics department, Paspalas says, “All rules for varsity letters are set by the head coaches of each program.”

The reason for policies like these at Hills are not necessarily to maintain state rankings, but to maintain what it means to be part of a team and stick to one’s commitments.

Paspalas says, “By an athlete choosing to go away and the lack of commitment that it shows… that athlete’s coach should put in some kind of consequence.”

After speaking to some coaches and captains of teams, it becomes clear that coaches and captains have rather similar standards and opinions. Head Track and Field Coach Ross Koehler said, “It’s unfair if someone is there for the entire time and you’re not there for the entire week.”

He also said, though, that going away does not necessarily guarantee an athlete will not get their letter, as he also looks at points and varsity standards.

When talking to Track and Field Captain Ayo O’uhuru, she said, “If students stay during breaks to compete and practice, it shows dedication and commitment from that athlete. This will help them when it comes time to pick captains and leadership roles. But being an athlete that has never seen a school recess, I believe that the competing athletes should stay.”

Boys’ baseball and basketball coach Kevin Kirkby felt that whether a student receives his letter after going away on vacation is based on whether they can still earn their keep once they return.

“If they are going away,” said Kirkby, “they put themselves in front of their team. I definitely think that if they were a starter before that, when they come back, they need to re-earn their spot as a starter. They have to beat out the kid that was in their place over that break.”

Baseball Captain Jake Chiavelli also felt it’s less about missing the practices and more about the lack of commitment going away represents: “I think it’s fair [to lose one’s varsity letter] because it’s a commitment. I think it’s not necessarily how many practices or games you miss, it means you’re leaving the team.”

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Olivia Uribe, College Corner Editor
Olivia Uribe is a senior who is entering her third year on The Trailblazer. Olivia is editor of the College Corner section and she hopes to research and inform students about all different types of universities and other college related information.

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