WARWICK – For R.I. interscholastic coaches who wish to work with a player during the offseason portion of the academic year, you’re now greenlighted to do just that.

At Monday’s meeting of the R.I. Interscholastic League’s Principals’ Committee on Athletics, the board vote unanimously (13-0) to approve a dramatic rules revision to the section devoted to the subject of coaching kids when the corresponding sport is out of season. Starting with the 2019 fall season, coaches will be allowed to interact with and provide instruction to their players in an effort to keep the lines of communication open.

The amending of this particular rule comes at a time when high school coaches regardless of the sport continue to voice concern about their athletes receiving private instruction. Allowing an athlete to seek out their high school coach during the off months to work on a specific skill figures to not only benefit the individual but also help the coach to better establish his or her program.

“We think this a good rule because it’s a way to get our coaches back involved,” said Interscholastic League assistant executive director Mike Lunney.  

The proposal was first presented by the league to the athletic directors during a recent meeting at CCRI-Warwick.

“It was unanimously approved at that session,” Lunney said.

Coaches can only participate voluntarily and without compensation. That stipulation was put in so that kids don’t feel compelled to pay their coach for the instruction they receive during the offseason.

A coach cannot work with more than three players from their team at one time. The last thing the RIIL wants is for programs to stage one intersquad scrimmage after another. This is about individualized instruction.

“One coach, no more than three kids, one facility,” Lunney said.

There is a limit of three hours per week that a coach can work with the high school player. From the school’s control point of view, the administration must give its approval before any offseason coaching can take place.

Every school has different facilities. Not every one of them can accommodate the needs of each program. Before heading down the road to throw the football or the 25-pound weight, the coaches and athletes must receive permission to  conduct a practice that’s not on school grounds.

“It also has to be regulated and monitored by the athletic directors. The last thing you want is have this go out of control,” added RIIL executive director Tom Mezzanotte. “This can help the advanced athlete and it can also help the athlete who needs to improve. A coach will say to a kid at the end of the year that these are the three things you need to work on before next year. Now you’ll have the opportunity to work on them.”

Mezzanotte believes this rule will benefit coaches who don’t teach or work in the high school as it relates to monitoring grades. Chris Cobain, PCOA member and East Greenwich athletic director, said the new rule will allow student-athletes to hear exactly what they need to hear from their high school coach … the positives, the critiques, and why coaches are looking to develop this particular way. 

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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