With the Fourth of July now behind us, the fall sports season for both high school and junior high teams can't be far off. In the coming days, you will see notices in this paper about open gyms, conditioning sessions and parents meetings. In less than four weeks, fall sports teams will all be immersed in their official practices. The first official day of practice in Ohio is Aug. 1.
With that in mind, I sat down with Wellsville High School athletic director Don Elliott to get some much-need information for the parents of not only Wellsville athletes, but for parents in all area schools. Elliott is currently the longest-tenured athletic director in the Inter-Tri County League, having served since the first year of the merger between the Inter County League and and the Tri-County League.
"It's very important that parents attend the parents meeting that each school holds," said Elliott. "It gives the parents the opportunity to get all the necessary paperwork so that it can be completed before the official start of practice."
Elliott went on to explain the importance of filling out the paperwork COMPLETELY.
"If the paperwork isn't complete, the athlete can't participate in practice. As an athletic director, I absolutely hate having to tell an athlete, or their parent, that the paperwork isn't filled out completely, or correctly. It's vitally important that they get the physical form completed and turned in."
Elliott pointed out that the paperwork can be downloaded from the Ohio High School Athletic Association's website; www.ohsaa.org.
In addition to getting the paperwork completed, the parents meeting serves as the opportunity for the parents to meet the coaches and the coaches to meet the parents.
"It's important that the parents meet the coaches that their sons and daughters are playing for," said the Wellsville mentor. "That can prevent a lot of problems on down the line."
In regards to concussion safety, Elliott said, "I urge the parents to log onto the OHSAA's website and look at the information on concussions. Many times, the symptoms appear after the athlete is at home, sometimes in the middle of the night. If the parents can recognize the symptoms, it can be really beneficial to the athlete and speed up recovery."
Wellsville is one of the local schools that has aligned with River Valley Health Partners at East Liverpool City Hospital to provide athletic training services for their athletes.
"We are fortunate to Alexis Thrasher back with us again this year from River Valley," said the Tiger athletic director. "She is tremendous. Alexis works very hard to keep our athletes safe and to get them rehabbed after injuries. She is a real blessing."
It is not unusual that the players who were "the stars" at the younger levels, get bypassed by others as the athletes mature.
"School sports are generally more competitive than youth teams due to the increased numbers from grade levels being combined on schools teams," Elliott said. "For example, our seventh and eighth graders are combined in football, and then our freshmen are up with the 10, 11 and 12th graders in football. Plus, with school teams, attendance at practice is mandatory."
Elliott also urged parents to get involved in the various boosters at their respective schools.
"The booster clubs provide the extras for the athletes," said Elliott. "They are the difference between a bare-bones program and a program that has extras. The more people who are involved with a booster program, whether it's athletics, band, choir, etc., the more a booster club can provide. We are very fortunate, here at Wellsville, to have people are who are committed."
Wellsville hosted a football playoff game, one girls basketball and two boys basketball tournament games during the 2013-14 school year. This was new ground for the Tigers and Elliott wished to take the opportunity to explain a couple of items which affect all the schools which served as hosts.
"Since these are state-sponsored events, season passes, senior citizen passes, or league passes are not accepted. We do not get to keep any of the ticket money," said Elliott. "The football gate receipts are sent to the OHSAA, while the basketball receipts are forwarded to the Northeast District Board. The benefit to us comes in being able to play on our home field or court, and not forcing our fans to travel."
Wellsville's meeting for the parents of students in grades seven through 12, who are playing fall sports in 2014, will be held Monday, July 28, at 7 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.