When 7th and/or 8th Graders Play Up: Selection Classification

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By Mr. Byrnes, Athletic Coordinator   The New York State Education Department and the Cazenovia Central School District participate in an athletic advancement program known as Selection Classification. This is the formal process by which students in grades 7 and 8 can become eligible to participate on junior varsity or varsity level athletics teams despite the fact they have not yet reached the 9th grade eligibility requirement. This process is intended to be used rarely. The NYSED Selection Classification Program is only designed for students who have been evaluated as exceptional, unusually gifted or elite in their sport(s). Participants of this program are deemed ready to excel at the junior varsity or varsity level despite their age and grade. Vast experience does not necessarily correlate to exceptionality. Frequently, very good and experienced 7th and/or 8th grade athletes are not permitted to go through this process. The athletic department firmly believes that participation at the grade level is a critical time in a beginning athlete’s personal and athletic development, especially when it relates to leadership and social development. Parents, coaches, and students should consider all aspects of the sport, not just skills and athleticism, prior to pursuing junior varsity and/or varsity eligibility as a 7th or 8th grader. The following timeline is used for students interested in Selection Classification: 1. The student, parent(s) and the upper level coach should meet to discuss the prospect of going through the program. It is suggested to start this process at least 6 months before the start date of a season. Exceptional or elite students do not come out of the woodwork at the last minute. 2. The student must complete and submit a formal application essay at least 30 days prior to the season start date. Specific questions are to be answered and the directions can be found on the school website. 3. The coach of the upper level team must complete a skills and ability evaluation at least 30 days prior to the season start date. This evaluation also requires the coach to approximate the level of playing time they would expect to allot to a prospective student. 4. The Selection Classification Review Committee (Athletic Administrator, PE Department Leader, and Department Leader for Nursing) will review all application materials to determine if the student is a suitable candidate. The Committee will then notify the student of their decision. The Committee convenes roughly 3-weeks prior to the start date of the season. 5. Students screened as suitable candidates will be scheduled an appointment with the school physician to have a maturity exam. Students must be cleared through the school physician. This appointment is hoped to be scheduled about 2-weeks prior to the start date. 6. If cleared by the school physician, the student will participate in the Selection Classification Performance Test. This test is usually scheduled about 1-week prior to the start date. 7. If the student successfully passes all phases of the procedures, the student is eligible to tryout for the upper level team. If the coach can determine through tryouts that the student will indeed excel at this level, the coach may give the student a roster spot on the team. If the student does not make the team, they can still play modified. 8. All schools on the team’s schedule and the Section III Office will be formally notified that Cazenovia CSD has approved the student through the Selection Classification Process. Once a student is formally Selectively Classified and they participate for more than the tryout period, they cannot change their mind and return to modified. All necessary instructions and reference materials can be found at the “Selection Classification” page found under “Athletics” on the school website. When should Selection Classification Procedures NOT be used? 1. If the reason for pulling up a student is to fill a vacant roster spot on a team intended for 9-12 graders, this program is not to be used. The program is not permitted simply because there might be room on a JV or Varsity team. The school will cancel a season for a specific level team if the only way to build enough students to complete the minimum number needed is by elevating an inappropriately selected younger aged student through Selection Classification. 2. Selection Classification Procedures are not used to reward a hard-working, passionate, and coachable student-athlete. While these character traits are strongly desired by any coach, these reasons are not reasons to elevate a student-athlete to JV or Varsity in 7th or 8th grade through the Selection Classification Program. This program is for elite athletes specific to the sport. 3. The Selection Classification Program should not be used if the 7th or 8th grade student simply plays a position on an upper level team that is being filled by an inexperienced or weaker athlete. The 7th or 8th grader must be considered elite and ready to excel at the JV or Varsity level to be elevated. 4. The Selection Classification Program cannot be used simply because the school does not sponsor a modified team in that sport. 5. The Selection Classification Program is not meant to provide students from 7th or 8th grade with added experiences. Students must be ready to excel immediately if selected. If the outcome of the game is on the line, the coach will have confidence to place the selectively classified student in the game as a participant. Otherwise, this student should not have been “brought up” as a participant in the first place.

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