High School Eligibility vs Specialty Coaches Currently Under Question

The sun sets as Horizon High School faces off against Corona Del Sol High School on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Next week is going to be a big one on the high school sports stage in our great state. The AIAAA(Triple A) The Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association is going to meet . One of the main items from my understanding is 14.4.1  and it’s interpretation. This bylaw is one that almost every high school parent of an athlete should be aware of. Eligibility of your kid could be called into question if the current wording stays in place. Here’s how it  reads. 


14.4.1 A student who is a member of a school team shall not practice or compete with any other group, club, organization, association, etc., in that sport during the interscholastic season of competition. This rule applies to the following team sports: football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, winter soccer, softball, track relay and swimming relay teams. For purposes of this rule, the interscholastic season of competition shall begin with the first regularly scheduled game and conclude with that particular team’s final game. Any student violating the above rule shall forfeit his/her eligibility for a minimum of the balance of the season for that sport or up to a maximum of one calendar year.


Sometimes you need to bring out the sledgehammer, other times the fly swatter. In the case bylaw 14.4.1, today swatting flies seems appropriate, but that may change in a big way next week. .

It’s been brought to my attention by several  high school parents who are hearing that their sons and daughters could be at risk of  losing their high school sports eligibility because their child works out with a private coach at a park, a gym, a batting cage, a soccer pitch. I spoke with one of the quarterback whisperers who is  in the world of QB training, sure enough, there’s something brewing that may not be good. 

“It’s ridiculous that this is even being talked about”,  quarterback whisperer Dan Manucci told me by phone. Dan is one of many former NFL players who has taken his years of experience and poured it into kids on weekends. He shows up at a park and has high school kids work on the mechanics. “I had a high school football coach tell me earlier this week, Manuch we don’t have an hour or two each week to work one on one with quarterbacks on footwork like you do, we are busy gameplanning and scheming for the upcoming game. we need guys like you”. 

Under the current interpretation of AIA 14.4.1 ,  if during a private coach session, a quarterback throws a ball to another high school athlete (whether on their HS team or not) they are in violation  So no wide receivers or defensive backs are allowed to show up at a quarterback workout.  Dad’s get ready to blow out a hamstring running routes on a Saturday morning. 

If your kid is a kicker, no long snapper or holder. 

If a soccer kid practices goal kicks and another student is trying to block it, they are in violation. No goalies. 

Softball and baseball – No catcher for the pitcher. No hitter vs the pitcher. 

Basketball – no player guarding another player

Volleyball – no player trying to bump, set, spike with another player

Training at private workout facilities would also come under scrutiny from my understanding.. If  an offensive lineman is working  out at a facility during the season, they could not do so  with another player on bags, sleds, technique, etc. Someone please explain to me who is going to interpret and enforce this? When,not if, there’s a lawsuit how is this going to hold up in a court of law? Aren’t there more pressing matters in society then a kid working to get better at his/her passion? 

There will be some current coaches who disagree with my stance. They believe that during the season the ONLY  voice should be the high school coach. So for nine months out of the year, the kid(who is the most important part of this equation) hears one way of technique, form, and training, suddenly can’t have any contact with their specialty coach? Is the ego of the high school coach getting in the way? The trust factor between player, high school coach, specialty coach has to work all in the good of the kid. Yes, there are some specialty coaches who are simply out to make a name for themselves, who don’t know what they are doing, who are making money off of kids. But, I would argue, most of the “whisperers”  are in it for the right reasons. If a kid needs a math tutor year-round on nights or weekends, what is the difference?  Pride of some high school coaches would need to be questioned if  14.4.1 were not amended. 

I believe that private coaching for youth and high school players, for the most part, is a positive. All four of our kids have played club sports along with their high school. All four of them have had or are currently receiving  private instruction. High school coaches usually do not have an hour or two per week to work one on one with their quarterback on his footwork, mechanics, etc. If a freshman offensive lineman can work with a private coach and other motivated players, why would anyone try to prevent that? 

This concern is currently on the AIA’s radar. Well-intentioned leaders have communicated their concern to the AIAAA regarding the impact on student-athletes.

So, next Thursday the 15th, at the AIAAA meeting, the discussion will be brought up to change the wording of the bylaw to present to the AIA Executive Board for review on the 19th. No need for the sledgehammer guys, just change the wording. This shouldn’t be that hard to understand.