Don't assume the school administration and teachers are on board with your high school varsity player's success; good grades, good citizenship and community service not withstanding. We learned the hard way that even if the athlete is representing the school at a sporting event which conflicts with a test or school work, you still have to look out for your good sport's interests, academically and athletically, because the school won't, at least our public school doesn't.

We found out that communication about these conflicts does not flow from coaches, to teachers, to admin or viceversa. If there's a test or project due smack in the middle of competition day, it won't be resolved automatically by the office or the teachers. The student has to arrange a make-up date, and hope the department's policy is lenient on turning in late assignments or taking tests after the class has already done so.  School administrators were stern when they let us know they also want the students, be they 14 or 18 years old, to speak with teachers directly and arrange these things for themselves, which is a burden given that each teacher has his/her own criteria for allowing an athlete a postponement for a test or school work.

When we tried to help our athlete obtain an extra day to study for a test originally scheduled for the following day after returning from a two day trip to a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoff game representing the school, we hit a wall. Not a single adult at the school: coach, athletic director, assistant principle or principle could intercede and inform us of an established procedure to handle this special circumstance.

“This is a blessing which feels like a curse” was how the assistant principal at the high school summed it up for me, but still did not offer a solution.

While it was very frustrating dealing with the mini-academic bureaucracy, it boiled down to the teacher's assessment of the student-athlete: “He's a good kid”, the teacher told my husband after conceding the extra study time.

If you're faced with this situation it might help to:

* Take note of each academic department's policy on turning in late work and make-up testing.

*  Have the student-athlete speak with his/her teacher a soon as they are aware of the conflict (in our case it was one day's notice).

*  Send an e-mail and CC all school administrators, coaches, teachers and the AD to make sure they all know what's happening.

*  It helps if the athlete is a good student with decent grades and citizenship.

Unless he/she is the school's star 'blue chip' athlete, this may come in handy if their best subject is tennis, sailing or golf!

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