A bill moving in the Senate would allow students to simultaneously play on their school sports team and a travel sports team in the same sport. 

The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday signed off on the legislation, Senate Bill 813, with its supporters saying parents and students should have the freedom to play on both teams.

“While participation in school sponsored extracurricular sports is a voluntary opportunity, no student-athlete should be deprived of additional opportunities to advance or showcase their skills purely because they are playing for a school sports team,” the legislation said. 

 Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason

Bill sponsor Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, said that many students are already choosing travel sports instead of playing for their school team. 

“ … The travel gives them more exposure to more college coaches and other things. So we want to be able to get that exposure and have the sense of pride for playing for your community,” she said. 

According to the bill, a county board of education and the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission could not restrict or prohibit a student from competing on non-school competitive teams as a condition of playing for a school team.

Sen. David Stover, a former coach, warned that the bill could cause issues for coaches due to overlapping sports schedules and students missing games. 

“I don’t agree that you should be able to have both teams operating in the same season,” said Stover, R-Wyoming. “If I’m going to play for the high school I shouldn’t divide my time as a coach or player.”

Grady responded that it would be up to the coach to decide whether players would face penalties for missing games.

“The coach could say you are going to lose your starting spot. That’s a coach’s decision,” she said. 

Sen. Mike Olivierio, R-Monongalia, supported the bill, saying that it provided needed flexibility for talented student athletes who want to play a sport for more than just a few months a year.

“I think it’s a really enriching opportunity for children to get a chance to play with kids outside of their school and make new acquaintances,” he said.

The bill heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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