The Vermont Principals’ Association defines middle school as students who are enrolled in grades 5 – 8. The VPA believes that an understanding of the unique physical, psychological,emotional, and educational needs of all middle school children should drive all aspects of middle school education.

    The VPA believes that middle school sports should be kept in perspective. To that end, we concur with the National Middle School Association research summary on sports in middle school, which states: "Many positive benefits for young adolescents may result from participation in sports which can enhance their self esteem and increase their interest in sports. However, when young adolescents’ needs and interests become secondary to pressures and unreasonable expectations from coaches, parents and even themselves, sports often have the opposite effect. Young adolescent's psychological well being should be a priority in developing middle school sports programs.”

    The VPA believes that every interested student be afforded the opportunity to participate in athletics and activities at the middle school level. Member institutions are encouraged to find creative ways and means for every middle school student to experience the personal growth and development that comes through active participation.

    The VPA has developed the following standards in order that our middle school athletic/activity programs may consistently apply the best of what we know to this centrally important part of the larger middle grade program.   

    Section 1. Standards

    (a) Student activities, intramural, and interscholastic sports are an integral part of the Middle School educational program.         

    (b) The emphasis of a Middle School activities program is on teaching, participation, and progression without the competitive pressures, which are part of the Senior High School athletic program. No single phase of the educational program shall be promoted at the expense of other equally important programs.

    (c) Participants, coaches, parents,officials, and fans shall model and uphold the highest ideals of sportsmanship.

    (d) The supervision of activities should be in the hands of trained school personnel. The selection of this leadership should be based on their knowledge of teaching activities to this age group,understanding of the modified sports/activities program, training, and safety procedures.

    (e) The programs should operate with minimal loss of school time, limited publicity, competent officiating, and limited awards.

                (f) All participant sare required to have health insurance.

    (g) All participants should receive appropriate medical screening in accordance with school district policies.

    (h) All participants should be selected,equipped, instructed, and supervised in accordance with school district policies.

    Section 2. Policies

                (a)Principal's Responsibilities

    Principals are responsible for operating all middle school activities in accordance with existing state laws and within the guidelines established by the Vermont Principals' Association.      

    (b) VPA Member schools shall compete with other member schools. Member schools may also compete with teams from schools and programs that are not members if the schools agree to substantially follow the VPA Middle School Standards, rules, and regulations.These schools may be in or out-of-state.

    (c) A home school student who wishes to participate in a public school co-curricular program shall be an “eligible student” under this section if:

    (1) The participating student is enrolled in a home-study program in compliance with V.S.A. Title 16, Section 166(b). 

    (2) The participating student must have a legal residence in the school district or is a legal resident of a district that does not maintain a school and pays tuition on behalf of its students. 

    (3) Participation in a school’s co-curricular program shall not commence until a copy of the Vermont State Agency of Education Enrollment Letter is presented to the principal by the parent or guardian. See Article III.Eligibility: Section 3 Home Study Programs in this document for additional information.

    (d) Eligibility of Eighth Grade Students: Schools enrolling less than fifty boys or fifty girls in grades nine to twelve inclusive may use students under sixteen years of age from affiliated grammar schools in interscholastic competition,provided the Executive Director approves.

    (1) Such approval shall be automatic if the requesting school shows an enrollment of less than fifty boys or fifty girls asof October 1, of each school year. 

    (2) Students granted such permission cannot compete until they have reached the eighth grade and then for only one year. 

    (3) Such students must meet the local academic and eligibility standards of the school they are attending.

                (e) Only VPA Member schools may participate in VPA sponsored activities.

    Examples: Spelling Bee, Geo Bee, Service Learning & Leadership Project grants and other activities.

    (f) Cooperative Sponsorship (Adapted from Section IV (Article XI) - Cooperative interscholastic athletic teamsfor middle school competition)

    Cooperative sponsorship of an interscholastic athletic activity by member schools will be considered under the following conditions:

         (1) The schools must be located in the same geographic area.

    (2) Cooperative sponsorship agreements must be reviewed on an annual basis, and be for a minimum of twoyears.

    (3) The principal of each member school must jointly make the application to the Vermont Principals’ Association’s Executive Director or designee for approval.

    Section 3. General Rules

    (a) Participants must be enrolled in their school or state approved school and must meet the VPA member school’s prescribed academic and eligibility rules.

                (b) Contest rules shall be governed by NFHS rules as adopted by the Vermont Principals' Association.

    (c) Participants in all interscholastic athletic activities must have a minimum of seven (7) days of practice before competing in interscholastic contests.        

                (d) Practice time shall be limited to one and one-half hours during any calendar day.

    (e) Member schools shall not participate in more than a combination of five (5) games and practices within a seven (7) day period.       

                (f) Member schools shall not play more than three (3) games per seven (7) day period. This includes both scheduled and make-up contests.

    (g) Member schools shall not play more than two (2) contests on back-to-back days. This includes both scheduled and make-up contests.

    (h) Scrimmage:A scrimmage is defined as, and intended to be, a learning situation, not a competitive event. A scrimmage is a practice and shall be treated as such. Scrimmages have unlimited timeouts during which coaches are allowed to provide instruction. Scrimmage can be conducted under the following regulations:

    (1) A team may participate in one (1) scrimmage per season, up to the end of the season.

    (2) No admission shall be charged. While the public need not be denied admittance to a scrimmage, it shall not be played as a regular game. 

    (3) Scrimmages are not bound by length of game regulations, however individual players cannot exceed the playing time of a regular season game. 

    (4) A score is only to be kept by the quarter/period/inning/half and not as a regular game.

    Section 4.  Waivers: A waiver is required for any deviation from existing rules and regulations. Waivers must be in writing to the VPA Executive Director or Designee and must be provided sufficiently in advance of the event.

    Section 5. Seasons & Sports Definitions & Regulations

    The VPA supports and encourages middle schools to provide young adolescents opportunities to participate in developmentally appropriate sports and activities (music, drama, dance, etc.). With this in mind, the VPA has developed sports specific regulations for the middle school that reflect a season that is 80% of an allowable high school sports program.

    (a) Definitions

    (1) The beginning of a sports season is defined as the first day a participant is eligible to begin practice for the season. See Table I for additional information.

    (2) The end of a sports season is defined as the day of the last scheduled contest, including make-up games.

    (b) Fall Sports: The fall sports season includes cross-country running, field hockey and soccer. The Fall Sports Season shall commence no earlier than the first scheduled student day of school as determined by the local school calendar, and shall run for a period of nine (9)weeks.

    (1) Cross Country Running (Boys and Girls) (NFHS Rules apply except as follows): No school shall schedule more than twelve (12) meets including tournaments.

                            (2) Field Hockey (NFHS Rules apply except as follows):

    (A) No school shall schedule more than twelve(12) games including tournaments.

    (B) Games shall consist of a maximum of thirty (30) minute halves.

    (C) In the event of a tie, there will be no overtime.

                            (3) Soccer (Boys and Girls) (NFHS Rules apply except as follows):

    (A) No school shall schedule more than twelve (12) games including tournaments.

    (B) The halves shall be limited to a maximum of thirty (30) minutes.

    (C) No player shall participate in more than two(2) halves in any day.

    (D) In the event of a tie, there will be no overtime.

    (c) Winter Sports: Winter sports include basketball, cheerleading, Nordic skiing, dance, gymnastics, and wrestling. The Winter Sports Season may commence two (2)weeks after the conclusion of the Fall Sports Season, and shall run for a period of thirteen (13) weeks. Vacation weeks, where no contests, scrimmages, or practices are held do not count toward the season total.

    (1) Basketball (Boys and Girls) (NFHS Rules apply except as follows):

    (A) No school shall schedule more than sixteen(16) games, including tournaments. 

    (B) A basketball game shall consist of a maximum of four (4) six-minute quarters, plus overtime, as defined by NFHS rules. 

    (C) No basketball player shall play more than four (4) quarters in any day exclusive of the need for overtime. Participation in a quarter constitutes a quarter of play. 

    (D) Overtime periods are a continuation of the fourth quarter. The time is one-half of a regulation period as defined by NFHS rules.

                            (2) Cheerleading (NFHS and UCA Rules apply):

    1 No squad shall cheer in more than sixteen (16) games as sanctioned by the VPA.

                            (3)Cross Country Skiing 

    1. No school shall schedule more than sixteen (16) meets, including invitational tournaments.

                            (4) Dance (UDA Rules Apply):

    1. No school shall schedule more than thirteen (13) contests, including invitational tournaments

                            (5)Gymnastics (USGA Gymnastics, FIG):

    1. Gymnastics - No school shall schedule more than sixteen (16) meets.           

                            (6)Wrestling (NFHS Rules apply except as follows):

    1. No school shall schedule more than twelve (12) matches including invitational tournaments.

    (d) Spring Sports: Spring sports include baseball, golf, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track. The Spring Sports Season may commence two (2) weeks after the conclusion of the Winter Sports Season, and shall run for a period of ten (10) weeks. 

                            (1) Baseball (NFHS Rules apply except as follows:)

    (A) No school shall schedule more than twelve(12) games including tournaments.

    (B) Games may consist of either five innings or seven innings as agreed upon prior to the start of the game. In a five-inning game, no new inning may begin ninety (90) minutes after the first pitch of the game is thrown. In a seven-inning game, no new inning may begin one hundred-twenty (120) minutes after the first pitch of the game is thrown.

    (C) Pitch Count Limits: All pitches thrown after thefirst pitch count toward pitching limits, excluding warm up pitches. See Table 2 for pitching limitations and rest requirements. 

    (D) In the event of a tie, there will be no extra innings.

    (2) Lacrosse (Boys and Girls)(NFHS & US Lacrosse Rules apply. Consult NFHS and US Lacrosse Rule Books under Youth Lacrosse sections):

    (A) No school shall schedule more than twelve(12) games including tournaments. 

    (B) Total game or jamboree-playing time shall not exceed the limit of one game (48 minutes).

    (C) No body checking shall be allowed. (Boys,per NFHS youth rules. Never allowed under girls’ rules)

    (D) In the event of a tie, there will be no overtime.

                            (3) Softball (NFHS Rules apply except as follows):

    (A) No school shall schedule more than twelve(12) games including tournaments.

    (B) Games may consist of either five innings or seven innings as agreed upon prior to the start of the game. In a five-inning game, no new inning may begin ninety (90) minutes after the first pitch of the game is thrown. In a seven-inning game, no new inning may begin one hundred-twenty (120) minutes after the first pitch of the game is thrown.

    (C) In the event of a tie, there will be no extra innings.

                            (4) Tennis (USTA Rules apply):

    1. No school shall schedule more than twelve (12) matches, including invitational tournaments.

                            (5) Track (NFHS Rules apply except as follows):

    1. Spring Track - No school shall schedule more than twelve (12) meets, including invitational tournaments.


    Section 6. Coaching Requirements

    The VPA believes that coaches should obtain proper training. Coaches play a critical role in the overall quality of the interscholastic activity program, the safety of student athletes, and the education of our children.

    (a) A person shall be eligible to be employed or appointed as a coach in any interscholastic high school and/or middle level activity if the person satisfies all of the following conditions:

    (1) The person’s appointment as coach must be approved by the local school district responsible for the member school in which the person coaches.

    (2) The coach must be at least 18 years of age or a high school graduate at the commencement of the sport season for which the person has been appointed to coach.

    (3) The coach must sign a statement acknowledging that he or she has read, understood and agrees to comply with and abide by all VPA bylaws and policies.

    (4) The coach must successfully complete the NFHS Concussion Education course. This course (or another approved by the VPA) must be completed immediately once a coach is hired and before the beginning of their first practice

    (Required under 16 V.S.A. sec.1431 (b)(3)(B).

    (5) This policy applies to coaches who volunteer or are under contract with a school district.

    (b) Guidelines for Coaching Education

    (1) The VPA highly recommends that all coaches and advisors of middle school students successfully complete training through an appropriate coaching program as defined by the local administration.Recommended professional development courses include on-line NFHS courses such as Fundamentals of Coaching; First Aid, Health, and Safety for Coaches;and Coaching Sports in the Middle School.

    (2) Examples of available programs include: 

    (A) National Federation of High Schools:       www.nfhslearn.com 

        (B)   The Association of Allied Health,Physical Education, Recreation & Dance Association training: http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/standards/upload/Co-Curricular-PA-Sport-Programs-for-Middle-School-Students-2002.pdf



    TABLE 1

    Middle School Sports Seasons

    All dates are defined by the local school district official calendar.


    Start of Season

    Length of Season





    May begin no earlier than the first day of student classes for the grades represented.


    Nine (9) Weeks







    May start two (2) weeks after the end of the Fall Sports Season.



    Thirteen (13) Weeks. 

    Weeks when schools are closed and no practices or games are held do not count toward the length of season.




    May start two (2) weeks after the end of the Winter Sports Season.

    Ten (10) Weeks

    Weeks when schools are closed and no practices or games are held do not count toward the length of season.


    TABLE 2

    Vermont Principals’ Association Pitch Count Table 2013-2014



    3 Days of Rest

    2 Days of Rest

    1 Day of Rest

    0 Days of Rest





    76 – 120 pitches


    51 – 75 pitches


    26 – 50 pitches


    1 – 25 pitches





    66 – 110 pitches


    41 – 65 pitches


    26 – 30 pitches


    1 – 25 pitches





    56 – 85 pitches


    36 – 55 pitches


    20 – 35 pitches


    1 – 19 pitches


     Addendum A: A Coach’s Code of Ethics

    Section 6. A Coach’s Ethics: A Statement ofBelief

    The responsibilityof a coach is to teach attitudes, proper habits, knowledge and skills. The athletic program is designed to enhanceacademic achievement and should never interfere with opportunities for academicsuccess. Each student athlete should betreated as an individual whose welfare shall be primary at all times. The coach must be aware that he or she servesas a model in the education of the student athlete and, therefore, shall neverplace the value of winning above the value of character building.

    • The coach must constantly uphold the honor and dignity of the teaching profession. In all personal contact with the student athlete, officials, athletic directors, school administrators, the state high school athletic association, the media and the public, the coach shall strive to set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct.
    • The coach shall support and enforce school rules for the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and abuse, and under no circumstances shall authorize the use of these substances.
    • The coach shall promote the entire interscholastic program of the school and direct his or her program in harmony with the total school program.
    • The coach shall be thoroughly acquainted with contest, state, league and local rules, and is responsible for their interpretation to team members.   The coach shall abide by the letter and spirit of these rules at all times.
    • Coaches shall actively use their influence to enhance sportsmanship by their spectators, working closely with cheerleaders, booster clubs, and administrators.
    • Contest officials shall have the respect and support of the coach. The coach shall not indulge in conduct that incites players or spectators against the officials or against each other. Public criticism of officials or players is unethical.
    • Before and after contests, rival coaches should meet and exchange friendly greetings to set the correct tone for the event.
    • A coach shall not exert pressure on faculty members to give student athletes special consideration.
    • It is unethical for coaches to scout opponents by any other means than those adopted by the state high school athletic association and the league.

    Addendum B




    The VPA recognizedthe use of chemicals as a significant health problem for many adolescents,resulting in negative effects on behavior, learning and the total developmentof each individual. The misuse and abuseof chemicals for some adolescents affects extracurricular participation anddevelopment of related skills. Othersare affected by the misuse and abuse by family, team members and othersignificant persons in their lives.

    The close contactin VPA activities of advisors and coaches and other athletic departmentpersonnel provides them with a unique opportunity to observe, confront andassist young people. The VPA, therefore,supports education and awareness training in adolescent chemical use problemsincluding the symptomatology of chemical dependency and special issuesaffecting athletic activities for administrators, athletic directors, coaches,advisors, participants and their families.


    1. Put thetraining and conduct rules of your coaches and school in writing.

    2. Have yourschool attorney review the rules.

    3. Have yourSchool Board review and adopt your rules.

    4. Have the rulesprinted in the student handbook.

    5. Print the rulesin the school paper.

    6. Post the rulesin the locker rooms and on bulletin boards.

    7. Give yourathletic participants a copy of eligibility rules.

    8. Send the ruleshome to parents.

    9. If possible,have your local newspaper publish your rules.

    10. Sponsor aChemical Awareness evening with parents, coaches and student athletecandidates.

    On May 2, 2014, the Vermont Principals’ Association Executive Council unanimously approved the reformatting of the Vermont Principals’ Association policies.

    Vermont Principals' Association   2 Prospect Street, Suite 3  Montpelier, VT 05602
    Phone: (802) 229-0547  Fax: (802) 229-4801