Homeschooler Participation in High School Sports
Participation in high school sports was the least of my concerns when I started homeschooling ten years ago. Some form of physical activity for my children was an important part of their curriculum and they started swim team, tennis lessons, soccer, softball and baseball. All of these sports were available through the community and the availability of school sports was irrelevant. However, when Kristina reached high school age she was interested in the high school tennis team experience and we explored her alternatives. The Redding school district required enrollment in the school or the district independent study program, which was set up for high school dropouts and mandated several hours of busy-work weekly. So we were faced with choices: The prison of school vs. ISP busy work vs. freedom. Kristina really wanted to play high school tennis and was willing to make the sacrifice. Even as the school added more and more onerous enrollment requirements she was willing to comply. She changed her mind when the high school tennis coach stated she could no longer train with her private coach in Sacramento during the season. The reality of the inflexibility of the program and the hostility to homeschoolers finally sunk in, and she decided that the negligible benefits of school sports were outweighed by the infringement on her freedoms.
Two years later, after we moved to Davis, Kristina reached the opposite conclusion. After encouragement from a local tennis coach and other homeschoolers who had participated in high school sports, we contacted the high school tennis coach and school counselor, Paul Oaks. He was very supportive of Kristina's choice to homeschool and her desire to play high school sports, and put her in touch with the Davis School for Independent Study (DSIS). She submitted a homeschool high school transcript to DSIS, explained her reasons for joining the program, and Kristina's high school tennis team experience began. DSIS understood homeschooling and unschooling, gave Kristina the flexibility to follow her own educational course within minimal guidelines, allowed her to continue to be in control of her education by taking DSIS, homeschool and community college courses, introduced her to a wonderful mentor, gave her the social experience of a team, and gave her the opportunity to play her last two years before college on a top-level high school tennis team. She ultimately graduated from our home-based private school and now attends the University of California, San Diego, where she plays college tennis. Derek is in his third year of swimming and Monika started her first year of water polo and swimming for Davis High School while attending DSIS during the sports season. They both take the minimum courses required, continue with their homeschool and community college classes, and will graduate from our home-based private school.
Reprinted with the permission of the HomeSchool Association of California. © 2007–2008 by HomeSchool Association of California. All rights reserved.
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