Ready for some football? Agreement allows high schools to share athletic programs


By Shawn Cunningham

One item in Assistant Principal Mike Ripley’s weekly reminders that is emailed to Green Mountain Union High School parents may have been a head-scratcher for many. The announcement of an information meeting about high school football for next fall doesn’t seem odd on the face of it, except that GM doesn’t have a football team. Football helmet

And, according to Athletic Director Eric Anderson, Green Mountain won’t be getting a football team either. But through the “Member to Member” program of the Vermont Principals Association, up to seven GM students could be playing football at Springfield High School later this year.

The program, which Anderson said was set up in the early 2000s, makes it possible for students from a school that  does not offer a sport (like hockey or football) to play that sport at a school that does offer it. There is a procedure and a checklist used in fashioning an agreement between the schools covering things like transportation and compensation. That agreement must be approved by both school boards.

Most sports don’t require any compensation from the school that is sending its students, but sports like football and hockey are expensive and may require some funding. The policy of Green Mountain, according to Anderson is to avoid charging parents. “We want to avoid‘pay to play’ if we can,” he said. Liability insurance is the responsibility of the host school.

The VPA rules say that the participation of other schools must be limited to 20 percent of the roster for the sponsoring school. In football, that means seven athletes.

In the past, Green Mountain has sent a player to Bellows Falls, but Bellows Falls already has an agreement with Vermont Academy and if VA sent the full seven players, there would be no room for GM students.

Green Mountain currently sends approximately 10 athletes to other schools each year. These include Springfield for dance team and field hockey and Woodstock for ice hockey. These students play on the teams of those schools. GM has taken in students for its track program, but since track — along with golf, cross-country and snowboarding — are individual sports, the incoming students train and travel with Green Mountain, but participate in competitions on behalf of their own schools.

So far, Anderson says that four or five students have expressed interest in the football program and, since there is no sport that is equivalent for girls, female athletes may apply for the slots. If more than seven students were interested in playing football, GM could pick participants by lottery or look for a school that might be interested in a “cooperative program.” The deadline for expressing interest is April 15.

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