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Athletics Handbook

 the  tryoutsAPPTable of Contents

Program Design
Modified (Grade 7 & 8) Athletic Program Philosophy & Advanced Placement Process
Junior Varsity Program Philosophy
Varsity Program Philosophy
Guidelines for Parents of Student-Athletes
Responsibilities of a South Orangetown Athlete
Student Eligibility For Sports (Academics)
Coaching Code of Ethics
Athletic Code of Conduct
NYS Concussion Management & Awareness Act
Dignity For All Students Act (DASA)
Sportsmanship & Fair Play
Spectator Code of Conduct
Absence Regulations
Practices & Contests
Parent/Coach Communication
Athletic Award System
Sports Physical Requirements
Changing Sports
Awareness of Risk, Precautionary Measures & If An Injury Occurs
Keys to Success


Congratulations on making the decision to participate in the South Orangetown Central School District (SOCSD) Interscholastic Athletic Program. Your involvement in our sports program will give you the opportunity to meet and work with our diverse, talented student body and our outstanding, dedicated coaching staff.

Our coaching staff cares about our athletes. They encourage academic achievement and character development. They believe that a truly educated individual is intellectually knowledgeable as well as physically educated. Our fine coaches serve as excellent, positive role models for our students and we are very proud of them and their achievements.

The main goal of the SOCSD Athletic Program is to provide experiences that are fun and promote individual growth within a safe and healthy environment. We hope that all students will participate in some phase of our program. These will be memorable high school experiences that will last a lifetime.

When your daughter/son chooses to participate in one of our sports programs, we feel that they have committed themselves to certain responsibilities and obligations. This handbook will acquaint you with some specific policies that are necessary for a well-organized interscholastic athletic program. The program is governed by the regulations established by the New York State Commissioner of Education’s basic code for extra-class athletic activities. Tappan Zee High School is a member of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, competing as a Class A school.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the SOCSD athletic program and/or this handbook, please do not hesitate to call the Tappan Zee Athletic Office at (845) 680-1641.

Please keep this handbook readily available. We hope you will take advantage of and participate in our athletic program to “be the best you can be.”

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It is the basic educational philosophy of the South Orangetown Central School District to prepare our students to become productive contributing citizens of our community and society. We believe that a comprehensive program of student activities is vital to the educational development of our students. The athletic program is an extension of this philosophy.

Within this context, it is the purpose of the SOCSD athletic program to foster and promote:

A. Appropriate physical, social and psychological development.

B. The ideals of competition, teamwork and sportsmanship while achieving the twin goals of success and participation.

C. The development of self-confidence, self-discipline, organization, decision making skills and goal orientation. Desire and dedication need to be developed  in order to ensure the commitment and personal sacrifice required by athletes. Making such a commitment helps to nurture integrity, pride, loyalty and overall character. The final outcome is a better citizenry carrying these values throughout their life.

D. The concept of an integral relationship between a sound mind and a sound body leading to a lifetime appreciation for physical fitness and good health habits.

E. A positive feeling of school loyalty and pride, which can be shared by all participants, other students, parents, coaches and the community as a whole.

F. The development of self-esteem and a healthy self-concept. Regardless of the role student’s play on a team, they should complete their experience in athletics feeling good about themselves.

Finally, the interscholastic athletic program shall be conducted in accordance with existing Board of Education policies, rules, and regulations. While the Board of Education takes great pride in winning, it does not condone “winning at any cost” and discourages any and all pressures that might tend to neglect good sportsmanship and good mental health. At all times, the athletic program will be conducted in a manner reflective of a positive, growth-oriented activity.

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Our school district believes that a comprehensive program of student activities is vital to the educational development of the student. We believe the primary objective of a well-designed program is to be challenging and enjoyable. We further realize that our student athletes expect coaching, teaching, responsibility and discipline.

Our program is designed to allow for the individuals to participate at their level of readiness and be able to achieve satisfaction and enjoyment. The program shall emphasize fun, enjoyment, and opportunities for all students and a strong emphasis on the building of skills at all levels.

The following guidelines have been developed to help students, parents and coaches understand the objectives and guidelines of participation in athletic activities at each grade level.

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The modified  program and Advanced Placement Process is available to students in the seventh and eighth grade. Sport activities offered are determined by the existence of leagues, student interest, and the relationship to the high school program. At this level, the focus is on learning athletic skills and game rules, fundamentals of team play, socio-emotional growth, physiologically appropriate demands on the adolescent body, and healthy competition.

The modified program’s primary objective is to provide a conducive learning environment that promotes positive self-esteem and teaches life skills and basic athletic techniques. This program is designed to encourage maximum participation and opportunities for our young athletes to experience sport and de- emphasize winning as a main goal. However, it does recognize that “winning” is important and enjoyable if kept in its proper perspective. When “winning” becomes our most important goal, it often results in poor judgment and unsportsmanlike conduct.

At the modified level, the procedure of cutting student/athletes is not desirable. However, if the number of students trying out for a team creates a situation that is difficult to manage, poses a safety problem, or is problematic because of facility consideration, reducing team size may be necessary.

Ultimately, number of teams and the size of the squad in any sport will be determined by the availability of financial resources, qualified coaches, suitable indoor or outdoor facilities, and a safe environment.

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Advanced Placement Process

Exceptional seventh and eighth graders may be permitted to try out for a freshmen, junior varsity or varsity team under the State Education Department Program called the “Advanced Placement Process.” Permission for this program begins with the coach’s recommendation. The athlete’s skill level must be such that they can compete on the junior varsity or varsity level and contribute at a high level. 

Additionally, students must display an advanced degree of socio-emotional maturity before a try out is granted. Upon receiving this recommendation the student-athlete will need to complete the following procedures in this order:

1. Parent/Guardian email of interest to the Director of Athletics by the upcoming season’s Advanced Placement Process (APP) due date. 

2.  Register online for the Advanced Placement Process (APP). Medical clearance must be accomplished exactly like every other student athlete participating.

3. Athlete must have the school nurse approve the physical maturity test utilizing the Tanner scoring system or have their personal doctor complete and sign the developmental screening form or provide a note stating why they should be able to participate. 

4. Each athlete must pass all parts of the athletic fitness testing  & development standardized test. The paperwork will explain exact details that the student athlete must meet. Note, you must achieve a passing score that is required  for your specific sport

It is very important to beginning this process early to ensure that the athlete will be ready to begin the sport season. If all four components are met, a tryout is granted. Please note it does not guarantee anything more than a tryout. If a student athlete does not make a HS team, they are eligible to play for the modified program for that sport. 

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The junior varsity level is intended for those who display the potential for developing into productive varsity level performers. Although team membership varies according to the structure of each program, freshmen and sophomores occupy the majority of roster positions, although in certain situations, juniors may be included on a junior varsity roster.

At this level, athletes are expected to have visibly committed themselves to the program, team, and continued self-development. To this end, increased emphasis is placed on physical conditioning, refinement of fundamental skills, elements and strategies of team play. In addition to socio-emotional development, junior varsity programs work toward achieving a balance between continued team and player development and striving for victory.

The realization that practice sessions are important is a premise that is vital to a successful junior varsity team and player. For all team members, meaningful contest participation will exist over the course of a season; however, a specified amount of playing time is never guaranteed. Participants at this level are expected to make a six (6) day a week commitment. While contests and practices are rarely held on holidays and Sundays, practice sessions are sometimes scheduled during school vacation periods. With the goal of becoming a varsity athlete clearly in sight, students participating at this level are expected to demonstrate a high degree of dedication and commitment.

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Varsity competition is the culmination of each sports program. Seniors and juniors generally make up the majority of the roster. At the varsity coach’s discretion, sophomores and freshman may be included on the team, provided that evidence of advanced levels of physical development, athletic skill, and appropriate socio-emotional development are demonstrated.

Squad size at the varsity level is limited. The number of participants on any given team is a function of those needed to conduct an effective and meaningful practice and to play the contest. It is vital that each team member has a role and is informed of its importance. The number of roster positions is relative to the students’ acceptance of their individual roles in pursuit of the team’s goals. While contest participation over the course of a season is desirable, a specified amount of playing time at the varsity level is never guaranteed.

A sound attitude and advanced level of skill are prerequisites for a position on a varsity team, as is the realization that a varsity sport requires six-day-a-week commitment. This commitment is often extended into vacation periods for all sports seasons. While contests and practices are rarely held on holidays and Sundays, they sometimes may be scheduled during school vacation periods. The dedication and commitment needed to conduct a successful varsity sport should be taken seriously.

The varsity coach is the leader of that sport’s program and determines the system of instruction and strategy for that program. The communication among the modified, junior varsity and varsity programs is the responsibility of the varsity coach. Preparing to win, striving for victory in each contest, and working to reach the group and individual’s maximum potential are worthy goals of a varsity level team.

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  • To encourage your child to do his/her best.
  • To realize that when participating in a sport, the choice should be the student’s not the parent’s.
  • To be mindful of the fact that coaches have a job and objectives that he/she tries to accomplish and that one coach’s objectives will differ from those of another coach.
  • To understand at different levels, there are different expectations and objectives that must be met.
  • To have respect for officials, coaches, other parents and athletes.
  • Praise athletes for just participating, regardless of their athletic skills.
  • Look for positives in the athlete; avoid ridicule or sarcasm.
  • Don’t be obsessed with your involvement in sports. There is a life after sports.
  • Remain calm when mistakes are made, and help athletes learn from mistakes

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Being a member of a SOCSD athletic team is a privilege and an honor, not a right. To many athletes, it is the fulfillment of an early ambition. The attainment of this goal carries with it certain traditions and responsibilities that must be fulfilled. A great athletic tradition has been developed by the hard work of many people over the years. As a member of a SOCSD athletic team, you have inherited a great tradition. Your actions will reflect not only on those with whom you are associated with now, but those who have contributed so much to our school in the past, and those who will follow you.

Many of our athletes have gone on to collegiate fame. Many others have established league, section and state records. Because of this fine tradition a challenge is set for you to work hard and to make sure that your actions reflect the standards that are set up by the Athletic Department.

In today’s society you will be asked to make sacrifices that will benefit yourself, your team and your school. Never before has the pressure of peer groups been so strong. You must learn to say “NO” to risky lifestyle choices. In the long run you and your family will be proud of the sacrifices and dedication that you will have put forth to be a member of our athletic teams. If you take this opportunity to make yourself a better individual, it will be truly a gratifying educational experience. The experiences of athletic competition are the result of hard work, dedication and discipline and are rewarded with the accumulation of fond memories and personal achievements.

The most important of these responsibilities is to broaden yourself and to develop strength of character. You owe it to yourself to get the most from your high school experiences. Your studies, your participation in other school activities, as well as in athletics, prepare you for your life as an adult.

Another responsibility you assume as a team member is to your school. Tappan Zee High School and South Orangetown Middle School cannot maintain their positions as outstanding schools unless you do your best in whatever activity you wish to engage. By participating in athletics to the maximum of your ability, you are contributing to the reputation of the school.

You have a responsibility to your parents to always do the best you can. When participating in athletics, we sometimes feel that we have failed if we have not won. By trying the best that you can and following all the rules set up by your squad, you can feel justifiably proud of yourself no matter what the win-loss record dictates. Younger students will look up to you and it is your responsibility to set a good example for them. They will imitate many things that you do just to be a member of your group. They need attention and guidance, so always take a few minutes to encourage them in whatever way possible.

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In support of the Philosophy and Goals of the South Orangetown Interscholastic Athletic Department and the basic educational philosophy of the South Orangetown Central School District the following academic requirements for participation in interscholastic sports and/or extracurricular activities are:

A student must have passed all courses in order to be eligible to participate in interscholastic sports. Grades of participants will be reviewed every five weeks. If a student is failing one or more subjects, the student is placed on “participation probation”. That student will have until the next reporting time (five weeks) to make sufficient progress to ensure passing all subjects. If this is accomplished, the student will be removed from probation. If the student has any failures at the next reporting period, the student will be declared ineligible and will remain ineligible until a reporting time when no failures occur.

Students who drop courses with a failing grade (excluding administrative Fs) will have their eligibility reviewed by the Review Board (see below).

Fall eligibility will be based on June grades unless they have been improved by the satisfactory completion of summer school courses.

A student on probation may still practice and participate in the sport. A student who has been declared ineligible may still practice as long as the student is enrolled in and attends a tutorial program. An ineligible student may not participate in games or contests under any circumstances.

New York State Public High School Athletic Association Student Eligibility for Sports: Age, Grade, Duration & Transfers
Upon entry into the 7th grade, a student is eligible for Modified Program competition (grades 7 & 8). A student is ineligible for modified program competition when the 15th birthday is attained; however, if a student attains the 15th birthday during the sports season, he/she may complete the sports season

The high school program consists of junior varsity and varsity teams. A student shall be eligible for such competition in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 until his/her 19th birthday. If the age of 19 is reached on or after July 1, the student may continue to participate during that school year in all sports.

A pupil shall be eligible for high school athletic competition in a sport during each of four consecutive seasons of such sport, commencing with the pupil’s entry into the ninth grade and prior to graduation.

Transfer Students may be ineligible for up to one sport season depending on the circumstances. Contact the Athletic Director for specific regulations.

NOTE: Students may be eligible regardless of age or grade if they have been approved through the State Education Department Selection/Classification Program. A 15-year-old below the 9th grade needs to meet selection/classification maturity standards to be eligible at the high school level.

Eligibility Policy
Student-athletes must maintain levels of subject achievement commensurate with abilities as evaluated by standardized tests and teacher judgments.

There will be three (2) eligibility checks during each marking period. The first from progress reports completed by teachers at the end of week five and the second from grades received at the end of each quarter. Eligibility will be determined as follows:

  • Level I: 2-week probation during which the coach is notified. The student-athlete remains eligible to practice, scrimmage and participate in all contests but must demonstrate sufficient progress/effort during this period.
  • Level II: 2-week probation during which the student-athlete is no longer eligible to participate in games, but is required to attend practices. A plan of action will be put in place by the coach, teacher, athlete and Athletic Director to improve academic achievement in the applicable course (s).
  • Level III: 2-week period during which the student-athlete is academically ineligible. He/she is not permitted to attend practice or games. If at the end of this 4-week period the student- athlete has not demonstrated sufficient progress/effort in the form of a note signed by the teacher(s) involved, he/she will be suspended for the remainder of that sport’s season.

Failing 1 Course:

  • 1st indication of possible failure: Level I
  • 2nd indication of possible failure: Teacher, Coach and Athlete plan to be put in place
  • 3rd indication of possible failure: Teacher, Coach and Athlete plan to be put in place

Failing 2 or More Courses:

  • 1st indication of possible failure: Level I
  • 2nd indication of possible failure: Level II
  • 3rd indication of possible failure: Level III

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As a professional educator and leader, the high school coach or athletic director will:

  • Exemplify the highest moral character as a role model for young people.
  • Recognize coaching as teaching in its truest form.
  • Recognize the individual worth and reinforce the self-image of each team member.
  • Encourage and assist team members to achieve their highest academic potential.
  • Create a set of training rules for athletes that reflect the positive values of abstaining from the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and any other destructive behavior.
  • Strive to develop the qualities of leadership, initiative and good judgment in each team member.
  • Communicate and interpret program goals and objectives to parents and community.
  • Provide a safe environment for practice and competition.
  • Gain an awareness of the importance of prevention, care, and treatment of athletic injuries.
  • Respect the integrity and judgment of the game official.
  • Teach and abide by the rules of the game in letter and spirit.
  • Build and maintain ethical relationships with coaches, administrators, and teachers.
  • Strive for excellence in coaching skills and techniques through professional improvement.
  • Promote personal fitness and good nutrition.
  • Be modest in victory and gracious in defeat.
  • Encourage a healthy respect for the overall athletic program and its vital role in education.

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The Athletic Code of Conduct consists of both academic and behavioral requirements. Participation on any athletic team is contingent upon the student’s willingness to commit to its provisions as evidenced by his/her completing and signing an official letter of commitment.

Academic Eligibility

Students are eligible to participate on an athletic team unless they are failing two (2) or more subjects at the time of report cards. Students not meeting requirements will be placed on a two week probationary period during which time improvement must be demonstrated in either effort or achievement. Failure to show positive improvement by the close of the probationary period will result in a continuation of the probation until such a time as the student has shown improvement. Improvement will be defined as documentation in writing from the students’ teacher submitted to the director of athletics.

Other Eligibility Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements outlined above, and as a further requirement for participation on any interscholastic team, student athletes are required to avoid any action(s) or participate in any activity which might bring embarrassment or any unfavorable view on the athlete, his/her teammates, coaches, family, school or community. This includes classroom / in-school and out of school behavior. Alleged violation(s) of this prohibition(s) will be subject to review and action under the code. Examples of some behaviors which would be considered as violations of the Athletic Code of Conduct are made part of the commitment letter to be signed by both the athlete and parent.

  • Section Seven of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association handbook regarding eligibility standards states that “A student is no longer eligible to represent the school in that sport in that season if the student participates in practice or competition with or against any college athletic squad during that season.” This infraction will also result in the interscholastic team forfeiting all victories in which implicated student participated.
  • Participation in interscholastic athletics on any SOCSD athletic team requires a great time commitment (six days a week on varsity teams). If a student athlete cannot make the full commitment or decides to play on an outside team over his/her school team during the same season, he or she may become ineligible to participate on the school team. If you choose to be on a SOCSD athletic team, SOCSD must come first!
  • Should an athlete voluntarily leave a team before the conclusion of the season he or she will be ineligible for the next season unless cleared by the athletic director. Student-Athletes who leave a team should make an appointment with the athletic director as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances and maintain their eligibility.


Illegal absences (cuts) are documented in the attendance office and are reported to the athletic office on a bi-monthly basis. More than five (5) cuts during a season will result in athletic ineligibility until such a time as the cuts are accounted for (cleared). In this case, ineligibility means the athlete may practice with his/her team but may not participate in contests. Upon notification of the coach, the director of athletics will give the athlete three (3) school days to clear the cuts with the attendance office. Inability to clear cuts will make the student-athlete ineligible for the remainder of the sports season. Parents may request a meeting with the director of athletics to discuss any extenuating circumstances related to the cuts and related consequences.

If a student is absent from school, he/she will not be eligible to participate that same day in any practices, scrimmages or contests. Exception: Prior consent of the Director of Athletics, Principal or Assistant Principal due to extenuating circumstances (ie: unforeseen family emergencies, etc.). This consent will be considered on a case by case basis and will be given at the administrator’s discretion.

Application of the Code

The Code will apply to each student athlete for one calendar year (including summer) from the date of his/her most recent signature and will be in effect at all times, in all locations, including non-school activities. Violations of the Code will result in penalties as determined formally by the Director of Athletics. Each coach also has the prerogative to establish and put into effect additional guidelines specific to his/her particular team.


In determining appropriate penalties, the Director of Athletics shall be guided as follows:

First Offense

  1. Effective on the date when penalties under the code are imposed, the athlete will be placed on probation for one calendar year.
  2. During the period of probation, the athlete will be expected to practice with the team (unless directed otherwise by the coach), but will not be allowed to participate in team contests according to the eligibility chart. For example, a player on a team with a 16-game schedule found to have consumed alcohol, he/she would be expected to practice with the team but would not be permitted to participate in the first four scheduled contests. Scrimmages are not considered scheduled contests.
  3. Penalties which cannot be served during the sport season in which they are imposed will be carried over for completion in the next sports season in which the athlete participates. The penalty assigned will be adjusted proportionately based on the number of regular season scheduled contests in the subsequent season.

Second Offense
If a second offense occurs during the probationary period, all provisions set forth in the first offense will apply. However, the games penalty will be increased according to the eligibility chart. In addition, a new probationary period of one calendar year will be assigned, beginning on the date the second penalty is imposed. For a second offense within the same sport season, the athlete will be suspended for the remainder of the season.

Third Offense
If a third offense occurs during the new probationary period, the athlete shall be removed from participation in all interscholastic athletics for one calendar year beginning on the date the penalty for the third offense is imposed.

Eligibility Chart

Number of Regular Season Contests: 8-11
First Offense = 2 Contest Penalties
Second Offense = 4 Contest Penalties

Number of Regular Season Contests: 12-15
First Offense = 3 Contest Penalties
Second Offense = 6 Contest Penalties

Number of Regular Season Contests: 16-19
First Offense = 4 Contest Penalties
Second Offense = 8 Contest Penalties

Number of Regular Season Contests: 20-23
First Offense = 5 Contest Penalties
Second Offense = 10 Contest Penalties

Number of Regular Season Contests: 24
First Offense = 6 Contest Penalties
Second Offense = 12 Contest Penalties

It should be noted, notwithstanding the above chart of penalties, that the facts of an incident may warrant immediate removal from the team if the Director of Athletics and the administration believe that the offense committed by the athlete warrants such action. In the event that the Athletic Code of Conduct or other school policies or procedures do not cover situations that arise, the administration reserves the right to establish such rules, conditions, and penalties to respond effectively to unanticipated or unique circumstances. A single violation may be deemed severe enough by school administration as to warrant the enforcement of the single violation as if it were a second or third violation.

Offenses Resulting in Arrest or the Filing of Formal Charges in Court
An athlete who participates in activities resulting in his/her arrest or formal charges being filed in Court may face additional penalties under this Code. If the District has adequate and competent evidence that the student participated in the offense for which he or she is charged, a penalty may be imposed pursuant to this Code prior to completion of the criminal proceeding. If the District does not have such evidence and the student is convicted of a crime, the penalty pursuant to this Code will be imposed upon conviction. In the latter case, the athlete may continue to participate in his/her sport until resolution of the matter by the judicial system.

Due Process
Prior to imposition of any penalty under the Code, the Director of Physical Education and Athletics will notify the athlete and parent of the nature of the infraction and the student will be given an opportunity to explain his or her side of the story.

Appeal Procedure
The student and/or parent/guardian have the right to appeal penalties imposed under the Code to the school principal and Director of Physical Education and Athletics. Appeals must be made in writing within three school days of assignment of a penalty for a code violation. The Director will then form a committee and consider the appeal. The committee will consist of the Director, an assistant principal and a member of the athletic department. The Director will respond with a decision within five school days after receipt of the letter of appeal.

Team Captain
Any athlete designated by his/her coach as a team captain will lose his/her captaincy for the remainder of their SOCSD athletic career upon violation of the Athletic Code of Conduct.

Examples of Behaviors Which Violate the Code
(Not intended to be all-inclusive)

  • Possession and/or Use of Drugs or Alcohol – The possession or use of drugs, drug paraphernalia or alcohol or the consumption of drugs or alcohol at any time is strictly prohibited.
  • Possession and/or Use of Tobacco Products – The possession or use of tobacco products is strictly prohibited.
  • Hosting of Drinking/Drug Parties – Student athletes are prohibited from hosting/attending a party that involves alcohol, drugs, marijuana or other controlled substances. Student athletes who are found to be under the influence at an Athletic contest as a spectator will be suspended from school and may be suspended from their contest(s) for the particular sport they participate in, even if it is in a different season.
  • Attendance – The practice of students staying home on school days to rest for events that day or night is unacceptable. A student who misses practice the day before a contest is ineligible for said contest if absence is unexcused.
  • SOCSD Code of Conduct Violations – Any violations of the SOCSD Student Code of Conduct resulting in an internal or an out-of-school suspension will result in progressive levels of discipline under this Code.
  • Hazing/Initiation Ceremony – SOCSD interscholastic coaches will not permit, nor will SOCSD student athletes stage, any type of “initiation ceremony” or hazing for athletes at any time and on any level. This prohibition includes Internet harassment, athletes giving other athletes haircuts, shaving, locker/shower pranks, etc.
  • Poor Sportsmanship – Student athletes, whether participants or spectators, will observe courteous behavior during all sporting events. Booing, whistling, name calling, obscene gestures, fighting or arguing with the referee etc. will not be tolerated. Spectators who are student athletes for a different team/season who are removed from an athletic contest may be suspended from contests for poor sportsmanship as spectators. These suspensions are to the discretion of the Director of Athletics, Principal and Coach. 
  • Stealing – Stealing of any kind, including athletic clothing belonging to SOCSD or our opponents, will not be tolerated.
  • Vandalism or Property Destruction – Vandalism or property destruction are Level Three infractions in the SOCSD Student Code of Conduct. These offenses may result in internal or external suspension and appropriate penalties for violation of the Athletic Code.

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In an effort to better manage the occurrence of concussions, New York State has set requirements and guidelines for the recognition, treatment and return to play criteria after a concussion. All SOCSD Nurses, Athletic Trainers, Coaches and Physical Education teachers are required to take an on-line concussion management course provided by the Center for Disease Control ( The SOCSD has created a concussion management team comprised of the TZHS Athletic Trainer, School Nurse and Athletic Director. This team will oversee the proper implementation of the Concussion Act requirements. The SOCSD Board of Education has approved a policy on concussion management which can be accessed on the district or TZ athletic websites.

Concussion Management Protocol
The Concussion Management and Awareness Act requires the immediate removal from athletic activities of any pupil believed to have sustained or who has sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (concussion). In the event that there is any doubt as to whether a pupil has sustained a concussion, it shall be presumed that he or she has been so injured until proven otherwise. No such pupil shall resume athletic activity until he or she shall have been symptom free for not less than twenty-four hours, and has been evaluated by and received written and signed authorization from a licensed physician. The physician authorization will then be forwarded to the SOCSD Chief Medical Officer for district clearance. For all concussions that occur outside of a SOCSD sponsored event/activity, the student’s parent or guardian is required to alert the nurse’s office and make them aware of the concussion.

Return to Play
Return to play following a concussion involves a stepwise progression once the individual is symptom free. There are many risks to premature return to play including: a greater risk for a second concussion because of a lower concussion threshold, second impact syndrome (abnormal brain blood flow that can result in death), exacerbation of any current symptoms, and possibly increased risk for additional injury due to alteration in balance. These New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) current returns to play recommendations are based on the most recent international expert opinion.* No student athlete should return to play while symptomatic. Students are prohibited from returning to play the day the concussion is sustained. If there is any doubt as to whether a student has sustained a concussion, it should be treated as a concussion. Once the student athlete is symptom free at rest for 24 hours and has a signed release by the treating clinician, she/he may begin the return to play progression below (provided there are no other mitigating circumstances).
Day 1: Light aerobic activity
Day 2: Sport-specific activity
Day 3: Non-contact training drills
Day 4: Full contact practice
Day 5: Return to play

Each step should take 24 hours so that an athlete would take approximately one week to proceed through the full rehabilitation protocol once they are asymptomatic at rest and with provocative exercise. If any post-concussion symptoms occur while in the stepwise program, then the student should drop back to the previous asymptomatic level and try to progress again after a further 24-hour period of rest has passed. (*These NYSPHAA current return to play recommendations are based on the most recent international expert opinion.)

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New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.

The Dignity Act states that NO student shall be subjected to harassment or discrimination by employees or students on school property or at a school function based on their actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex. The South Orangetown Central School District Athletic program’s goal is to make the interscholastic athletic experience a positive one for all. Any infractions of the Dignity Act will be investigated and addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.

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Visiting team members, students and adult spectators are guests to be accorded all the courtesy and consideration that a friendly, well-mannered and well-intentioned host would normally give. The visitors, in turn, are to act as invited guests, using the home school’s facilities with care and respecting the rules and customs of the home school.

Officials are the proper authorities to make decisions regarding rules and their interpretation; these decisions should be accepted.

Spectators, student athletes and coaches must recognize that their conduct plays an important role in establishing the reputation of their school and that their positive actions can relate directly to the success of their teams.

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The Athletic Department recognizes the role of interscholastic athletics in defining ethical behavior and developing personal character of our students. Therefore we ask that all spectators become active participants by:

  • Demonstrating a high degree of sportsmanship by modeling appropriate behavior and also by monitoring the behavior of our crowd.
  • Showing team support by making only positive comments and by using appropriate language.
  • Showing positive respect for the judgment of coaches, officials, and referees.
  • Acknowledging that fields, courts, bench area and equipment are the player’s domain during a contest. Spectators should remain within the designated areas.
  • Monitoring the safety of children at all times.

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The school recognizes that there are circumstances that may require athletes to be absent for extended periods of time. Some of those absences may be beyond the control of the athlete and their family. Others may involve choices that the athlete and their family decide to make. When athletes make a choice to miss tryouts, competitions or practices to participate, they should understand that those absences might affect their standing/role on the team.  Depending upon the length and nature of the absences, athletes may not make a team, miss competitions or be dropped from a team.

Individual absences, excused or unexcused, will be treated as specified in each coach’s program regulations. Those regulations will be designed to promote fairness and will take into consideration the best interests of individuals and the team.

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  • All student/athletes must make a commitment to attend all practices and contests on time.
  • Athletes must be in attendance by 11:19 AM (beginning of 5th period) in order to participate in that day’s practice or athletic contest.
  • The Coach will notify athletes and their families of the team’s game and practice schedule (with times).
  • If an athlete is going to be late or absent from practice it is his/her responsibility to notify the Coach.
  • An excused absence is for family emergencies only (illness or death of a family member or a legally mandated absence).
  • Absence on a day preceding a contest may be a reason for not participating in contest.
  • Dental and/or medical appointments should be made after school hours but not during scheduled practice time whenever possible.
  • If a student athlete leaves a practice or contest without communicating this to the coach, that will be considered the student athlete leaving the program and be dropped. The coach will communicate this immediately to the Athletic Director.

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Both parenting and coaching are extremely difficult jobs. By establishing an understanding of each position, we are better able to accept the actions and provide greater benefit to children. As parents, when your child becomes involved in a program, you have a right to understand what the expectations are. This begins with clear communication from the coach of your child’s program

Communication you should expect from your child’s coach:

  • Philosophy of the coach
  • Expectations the coach has for your child, as well as all the players on the team
  • Locations and times of all practices and contests
  • Team requirements (i.e., fees, rules, and special equipment)
  • Procedure should your child be injured during participation
  • Discipline that result in the denial of your child’s participation

Communication coaches expect from parents:

  • Concerns expressed directly to the coach
  • Notification of any schedule conflicts well in advance
  • Specific concern in regard to a coach’s philosophy and/or expectations

As your children become involved in the SOCSD athletic program they will experience some of the most rewarding moments in their lives. It should be understood however, that there also may be times when things do not go the way you wish. At these times, discussion with the coach is encouraged.

Appropriate concerns to discuss with the coaches:

  • The treatment of your child, mentally and physically
  • Ways to help your child improve
  • Concerns about your child’s behavior

It is very difficult to accept your child not playing as much as you may think appropriate or deserved. Coaches are professionals. They make judgment based on what they believe to be the best for all students involved. As you can see from the list above, certain things can be and should be discussed with your coach. Other things, such as the following, must be left to the discretion of the coach.

Issues not appropriate to discuss with coaches:

  • Playing time
  • Team strategy
  • Play calling
  • Other student/athletes

There are situations that may require a conference between the coach and the parent. These are to be encouraged. It is important that both parties involved have a clear understanding of the others’ position. When these conferences are necessary, the following procedure should be followed to help promote a resolution to the issue of concern: Call the athletic office to setup an appointment with the coach (845-680-1641). If a coach cannot be reached, contact the Athletic Director to arrange a meeting for you.

Please do not attempt to confront a coach before or after a contest or practice. These can be emotional times for both the parent and the coach. Meetings of this nature do not promote resolution.

What can a parent do if the meeting with the coach did not provide satisfactory resolution?
Call and setup an appointment with the Athletic Director. The parent/guardian, coach, and Athletic Director will meet to discuss the problem. At this meeting, the appropriate next step can be determined. Parents are encouraged to discuss issues and problems with the Athletic Director. However, if a parent has specific complaints regarding the coach, then the coach must have the opportunity to be present to meet with the parent.

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  • An athlete is a representative of the South Orangetown Central School District. When traveling to or from a game, athletes should dress appropriately.
  • It is expected that teams will travel together to and from all games using South Orangetown Central School District busing. In the event that a parent/guardian voluntarily opts to allow their athlete to either (1) drive themselves to and from athletic games/contests/competitions (only students that currently drive to and from school each day will be considered) or (2) parent/guardian will drive their athlete to and from athletic games/contests/competitions, the parent/guardian maintains the responsibility of providing transportation for their athlete for the full school year. The Student Athlete Self-Transportation Request Form must be completed and submitted for review and approval by the Athletics Department in advance. Only student athletes with a special circumstance warranting self-transportation using one or both options listed above will be honored.
  • Proper decorum is a must when traveling to and from all contests and scrimmages.
  • Athletes must respect the bus driver at all times.
  • No yelling or screaming on the bus.
  • Once the bus is in motion, all athletes must be seated.
  • All COVID-19 safety protocols and directions given by SOCSD coaches, staff, and the bus driver must be followed accordingly.
  • Unless there are extenuating circumstances, there will be no eating or drinking on the bus.
  • If a trip is coming back late and food is allowed, the athlete must clean up before leaving the bus.
  • Student athletes remain subject to the Code of Conduct, inclusive of Athletics.

All athletes should utilize school transportation for all interscholastic contests and should travel to and from school in buses provided by the South Orangetown Central School District. In special cases, a parent or guardian may request to provide transportation for his/her child only. In such cases, an electronic written request must be submitted to the Coach and Athletic Director for approval. To allow a student athlete self transport, the “Self Transportation” permission form must be signed by the parent/guardian and kept on file in the Athletic Office. This should only be utilized for student athletes taking SAT courses or are in need to go straight to work after contests. 

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The district lends equipment to the athlete for use on a daily basis during the season. The student assumes the responsibility for the return of all equipment at the appropriate time. Athletic equipment provided by the district is costly to purchase or replace. It is the athlete’s responsibility to protect all equipment. The district’s policy regarding this equipment is as follows:

  • In order to protect personal and district equipment, the athlete should utilize a padlock for his/her locker.
  • All equipment loaned to an athlete must be returned.
  • Any equipment destroyed or lost and therefore not returned must be paid for. The athlete will be charged the cost of replacing the item. This obligation must be addressed prior to the end of the school year or graduation.

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Each individual coach will establish the criteria for earning a varsity letter in his/her sport. This award is not given for participation and attendance alone.  Athletes unable to complete a season due to injury, illness or other such circumstances may earn a letter if the coach feels it is justified. Athletes must finish the season to be eligible for an award.

The following awards are available at Tappan Zee High School for students who wish to have them:

  • Varsity Letter:  Red/White chenille TZ 6” letter awarded to first-year/first-time varsity athlete.
  • Sports Pin: Metal sports pin attached to varsity letter awarded after the completion of each varsity season.
  • Team Awards: Each coach has the opportunity to give up to five athletic department awards; MVP, Most Improved, Rookie of the Year, Coaches Award, and Sportsmanship certificate.

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If you would like to play an interscholastic sport, you must have an updated physical. Private physicals are recommended.  Physicals by the District Medical Director are provided upon request.  District Medical Director physicals are planned according to need. Both private and school physician physicals are good for up to one year. The private physician physical must be attached to a completed SOCSD physical form which can also be obtained in the TZHS and SOMS School Nurses’ offices. You must bring this form with you to be completed during the doctor’s visit.

If you want to guarantee that you will start the season, submit the private physician physical to the School Nurse’s office at least two weeks prior to the start of the season. If the school nurse has a concern, they may send the physical to the District Medical Director. The District Medical Director has final say and approval on all of the private physician physicals flagged by the school nurse and all APP requests.

If your physical is less than one year old and the nurse has a copy on file, all you need is a medical update within 30 days of the start of the sports season. This allows the nurse to review your health record and make sure you have everything you need to play.

Becoming Medically Certified or Recertified
Student/athletes must be medically cleared BEFORE beginning practice each season. The athletic physical is required before a student may participate in practice and/or competition. Athletic physicals can be provided at no charge to interested students. The School Nurse, ATC or Athletic Office will arrange these physicals with the District Medical Director. The following information summarizes requirements for medical certification.

Physical exams must be completed by the school or family physician and are considered current for 12 continuous months. Student athletes are required to obtain a completely new physical exam if the previous physical date expires before the upcoming season.

All student/athletes and their parents must complete the Athletic Health History Form prior to each sport season. Your school nurse will review this information in order to ensure safe participation. Each student/athlete must have a medical update returned to school nurse prior to each season.

Returning After an Injury or Illness
Any athlete who has seen a doctor must be released (signed statement) by the doctor that treated your child in order to resume participation with their team. If you have to go to the emergency room for care, please obtain the release (written) before leaving the hospital because many times the attending physician may not be there the next time you visit. This release must be filed with our school. It is the athlete’s responsibility to get the release to the school nurse or certified athletic trainer; do not leave this responsibility to some other person (coach, teacher, friend, etc.)

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Students may change from one sport to another sport provided that they have received permission from the coaches involved and the Athletic Director. If he/she has been cut from one team, it is legitimate to try out for another if there is room on the roster. The athlete must understand that practices are sport specific and may not count from one sport to another.

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The participation in interscholastic sports, as in most of life’s activities, carries a degree of risk or injury, perhaps even death, which cannot be ignored. While these risks do exist in our athletic program, the coaches, certified athletic trainer, school nurse, teachers, and administration are committed to reducing the possibilities of such occurrence through an emphasis on sound training and adherence to the procedures and guidelines contained in this Athletic Handbook.

Precautionary Measures

  • The pre-season physical examination by a school or family physician and a district nurse evaluates students for athletic participation. Past medical histories are reviewed and recommendations regarding participation in various activities are made. No student is permitted to participate in try- outs, practices, or games until the medical staff grants full approval.
  • The medical staff (Certified Athletic Trainer) makes coaches aware of any special restrictions required for your child.
  • All coaches are certified in CPR/AED and First Aid techniques and have first aid supplies at all practices/games.
  • All equipment utilized by athletes is top grade quality and meets all safety standards.
  • Fields and other playing areas are continually inspected to remove safety hazards.
  • The training staff is informed of all sports-related injuries and appropriate medical follow-up is required before students are permitted to return to participation.

If an Injury Does Occur

  • The coach informs the Certified Athletic Trainer and they complete the student incident form and send it to SOCSD Business Office.
  • If an injury happens outside of a practice or during the school day, the Certified Athletic Trainer will need documentation from a personal doctor or the school nurse to treat the student athlete. 
  • The coach notifies parents as soon as possible when appropriate.
  • The parent should take the athlete for necessary medical treatment and utilize family insurance coverage, if appropriate.
  • After reimbursement is made from the family insurance policy, the parent submits unreimbursed medical costs, if applicable, to the school insurance by using the carrier’s claim form, which is mailed to the family by the athletic office.
  • The student accident policy will cover injuries that occur as a result of a sports related incident. Upon the insurance company’s approval of coverage for that specific injury, they will reimburse a portion of the balance of cost not covered by the family insurance.
  • The student accident policy does not cover the costs of medical supplies/equipment (crutches, braces). The cost for such appliances must be assumed by the family insurance or by the parents.

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Every one of us wants to be successful. However, very few of us actually create a plan to achieve our success. It is important to remember that we all need a plan. A major portion of this plan should be your goals. The process of goal setting is very simple and with a little effort will bring tremendous results.

Guidelines for setting goals are fairly simple. First and foremost the goals must be written down. Studies support the notion that writing down the goals causes the individual to have a concrete focus for the task at hand. Goals need to be realistic as stated in a positive form and be as specific as possible. Goals should be measurable not up to subjective interpretation.

Since life is not always perfect and all athletes do not achieve their entire dreams competitor must be willing and prepared to occasionally re-adjust the goals. Injuries, illness, family situations and other factors may cause (what seemed to be) a realistic goal to be unachievable. Likewise, tremendous improvement might also render a goal obsolete, and goals may have to be adjusted to a high level.

Setting and resetting realistic goals is important. However, a key ingredient in achievement of goals is the preparation necessary for achievement. An Athlete must be disciplined and consistent in the pursuit of goals. Dedication and dependability are other key factors. Be aware that reaching goals takes time and HARD WORK. Beyond a strong work ethic, you must also have a plan in order to achieve the goal. While you might be able to drive to Florida without a map, the trip certainly is faster and less stressful if you follow a mapped route. Likewise, in the pursuit of goals, the athlete and coach need a map to arrive at the desired destination.

The journey will also be much shorter and much more achievable when you believe in the set goals. Goal writing will not have a positive effect unless it is something you actually believe you are capable of accomplishing. Once you exceed the goal for the first time, the belief factor rises tremendously and those goals (which seemed so unrealistic at one time) now become realistic. Most athletes who truly believe in their goals will amaze themselves and easily surpass many of the original goals. Then it is time to immediately establish new goals.

Learning to set goals is a rather simple process, but like all valuable skills, it must be monitored at the beginning. Ask the coach for help with the preparation of your goals.

People new to the goal setting idea have a tendency to be extremely vague. Be very specific in your goals. Keep the number of goals short. In the beginning try five short-term, five medium-term, five long-term and five career goals. An example of five short-term goals includes: I will attend all practices this week. I will increase my flexibility by doing my stretching daily. I will learn the names of all the members on our team. I will do all my geometry homework. I will read one book about my desired profession. These short-term goals are all stated positively and they do not depend on another individual’s performance. They are all measurable. At the end of the time period, the athlete and the coach will have a very good idea of whether or not these goals are achieved. Keep a copy of your goals and review them on a regular basis. Some athletes post the goals above their bed or on the refrigerator so that they can view them constantly and reinforce their goals in their minds.

Goal setting can certainly have amazing results. While every goal will not be reached, it is amazing the positive effect goal setting has on your team and its performance. Each week, you can take tiny steps towards a season-long progression. If we shoot for little improvements, the big improvements will eventually come!

Time Management
Life is full of choices and one of the choices you have made is to participate in a sport. This is a commitment that will involve time. Practice time is needed, but so is study time. And it is important to spend time with those people who occupy the same house as you do. Girlfriends, boyfriends, jobs, social life and a variety of other commitments all tug on your shirt sleeve, demanding that valuable time. How do you organize that important commodity?

First of all, you set priorities. What is most important to you? Family should be on top of the list. Most teenagers spend less than 10 minutes a day talking to their parents. Schedule time for your family daily.

Secondly, school needs time. How you do academically in school will probably be some type of determining factor on the quality of the occupation you are allowed to choose for life. Regardless of your academic achievements, make time for schoolwork, teachers and tests.

School usually takes six hours a day. Time with family involves another two hours a day. Most of us need eight hours of sleep. That means we have another eight hours to divide among practice, homework, friends, jobs, free time, recreation and eating. From the start to finish, practice may take two hours on the average. Now you are down to six hours and you still have a “million” things to do. Homework still has to be done and somewhere along the way you must find some free time to relax. How can you do all this?


Physical Education, Health & Athletics
Tappan Zee High School
15 Dutch Hill Road
Orangeburg, NY 10962

William Pilla
(845) 680-1640 |

Greg Laskow
Assistant to the Athletic Director

Emer O’Riordan
(845) 680-1641 |

Jessica Lappe, MS, LAT, ATC, PES
Head Athletic Trainer
(845) 680-1682 |

Committees & Partners
Red & White
TZ Athletic Hall of Fame

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