Athletics Guide for Parents

The Penn Charter athletics program is a team effort and parents are key to success. 

As you support your children in their commitment to their sports, the Athletics Department strives to ensure parents feel well-informed and confident in your ability to support your children within the Penn Charter athletics experience.

The purpose of this guide is to explain the mission, objectives and expectations of the Penn Charter athletics program for athletes and their parents.

Guide for Parents

Athletics Mission and Goals

At Penn Charter, athletics is an integral component of the educational experience.

Our athletics program operates according to the school’s Quaker principles and practices. We strive for competitive success in a broad variety of interscholastic sports. Our program provides opportunities for every student to realize his or her potential as an individual athlete and a team member. Through these pursuits, our students develop sportsmanship, cooperation, dedication, leadership and responsibility.

The goals of Penn Charter Athletics are to:

  • Ensure that a student's athletic participation complements his or her overall educational experience.
  • Ensure that our athletic teams are competitive.
  • Ensure that the athletics program maintains a broad variety of offerings.
  • Ensure that the athletic experience develops both skill and fitness.
  • Ensure, through athletics, that students develop lasting life skills and values.

Program Objectives

The athletics program at Penn Charter promotes participation and emphasizes hard work, teamwork, sportsmanship and excellence in competition. All athletic teams at Penn Charter strive to provide quality instruction to student-athletes and to develop the core values that stem from our beliefs and practices as a Quaker institution. These beliefs and practices are inherent in our mission statement and team rules, and they guide our training and competitions.

US Track Triple JumperPenn Charter’s athletics program is organized by school division and skill level. Middle School athletics provide for varsity and junior varsity teams for all sports except golf, indoor track and field, and crew. However, students may play up or down as warranted. Students should take this into consideration when choosing sports. Participation in some sports may also be limited due to lack of previous experience at the chosen sport, facility limitations and number of student participants.

At the Middle School level, the primary objectives are to encourage participation and teach basic skills and rules of the game. It is our hope that, through participation in interscholastic play, Middle School students will develop an appreciation for athletic competition that will support them as they move on to the Upper School. League championships are not recognized at the Middle School level.

Varsity Boys Lacrosse PlayerSkill development is an objective at the Upper School varsity level, but greater emphasis is placed on competition for league championships. The objective for junior varsity and ninth grade players is similar, however, more emphasis is placed on participation and skill development. League championships are not recognized at this level. Athletes can expect junior varsity play to be an acceptable level of high school competition and, in many cases, a preview of future varsity competition.

Penn Charter is a member of the historic Inter-Academic Athletic League, or Inter-Ac, formed in 1887 as the Inter-Academic Athletic Association. The Inter-Ac is the country's oldest inter-scholastic athletic conference and was expanded in 2013 to include girls' sports. The league consists of The Agnes Irwin School, The Baldwin School, The Episcopal Academy, Germantown Academy, The Haverford School, Malvern Preparatory School, The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and William Penn Charter School.

Middle and Upper School Sports

Middle School Sports

Fall Winter Spring
 Cross Country (boys and girls)  Basketball (boys and girls)  Baseball
 Field Hockey  Wrestling  Lacrosse (boys and girls)
 Football  Squash (boys and girls)  Softball
 Soccer (boys and girls)  Swimming (boys and girls)  Tennis (boys)
 Tennis (girls)    Track and Field (boys and girls)




Upper School Sports

Fall Winter Spring
 Cross Country (boys and girls)  Basketball (boys and girls)  Baseball
 Field Hockey  Wrestling  Crew (boys and girls)
 Football  Squash (boys and girls)  Lacrosse (boys and girls)
 Soccer (boys and girls)  Swimming and Diving (boys and girls)  Softball
 Tennis (girls)  Indoor Track and Field (boys and girls)  Tennis (boys)
 Water Polo (boys and girls)    Track and Field (boys and girls)


Game and Practice Times

Practices and Games

All team members are required to attend each practice, unless prior arrangements have been made with the head coach. It is essential that athletes do their best to avoid scheduling appointments or trips during practice time. Where needed, special considerations are made for religious instruction that may create unavoidable conflict with the practice schedule.

On school days when no games are scheduled, practice times are as follows:

Middle School: End of the academic day to 4:30 p.m. Middle school teams practice five days a week. In season, Middle School students may be released early from homeroom for practices and games with the approval of Director of the Middle School. 

US girl kicking ball on PC/GA dayUpper School Varsity, Junior Varsity and Ninth Grade: Upper School practice is generally held after the academic day to 6:00 p.m. Unless prior permission has been granted, practices should not exceed 2½ hours. No team may practice or play on a Sunday without prior approval.

Game schedules are developed in advance of the upcoming season. All league schedules are established by the league athletic directors, and non-league games are scheduled by the associate directors of athletics. In general, Middle School plays two games per week and Upper School teams play two or three times per week. Upper School games are scheduled on Tuesdays and Fridays; third team game day may vary, and usually there are fewer games for third teams compared to JV. Most Middle School girls’ games are scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays. Middle School boys’ teams generally play on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Whenever a Middle or Upper School game must be scheduled on a day different than described above, the time and location will be changed to accommodate the academic schedule. Team sports are usually scheduled with varsity playing first followed by the junior varsity. When facility availability permits, Middle School games may be played simultaneously. 

If school is cancelled due to inclement weather, games will be postponed. On rare occasions, night games may be played if the weather has significantly changed with permission of the Athletic Directors. A player desiring to change sports during a season must do so within a week of the start of practice. The change must be approved by both coaches involved and the Athletic Director.

Expectations for Players

Expectations for Players

The traits listed below will bring you success beyond the court or playing field. Any great business or company is going to ask the same things of their employees. If you can develop these and perfect them as an athlete, you will have a leg up on the competition.

1. The number one thing coaches love in players is a never give up attitude. As a player, you should never give in no matter what the circumstances. If you develop this mindset as a player, it will take you many places in your personal life. You are going to lose and be knocked down, but can you get back up and give the same or better effort? The challenges in sports help prepare you for life. Coaches want players who give their best effort each time they set foot on the court or field. If you can look yourself in the mirror after every practice or game and can say you gave it your all, you are a winner.

2. Coaches absolutely love players who play with a competitive fire. One thing that all of the greats, (Jordan, Ham, Montana, Manning, Gibson, Ruth) have in common is an intense competitive drive. Coaches want players who are driven to become their absolute best. Players should not only compete with their peers, but more importantly they should constantly be competing and pushing themselves to become the very best they can possibly become. As a player, do you try to beat your personal bests every day in every drill? If not, you need to start.

3. Coaches love players with a team first attitude. One of the best responses a player can give a coach is, “Whatever is best for the team.” This might mean a person moves from a starting role to a reserved one. A coach wants players who want to play, and expect that attitude. However, we will never get to the level we want to be at or achieve success unless you are willing to give up playing time if it means your team wins.

4. Coaches want players who are committed to the team and program. If a player is truly committed, they do the right things on and off the court. They get good grades, have good attendance, and display great behavior. Being committed to the program also means giving back, and one of the best ways to do this is to be a positive role model for younger athletes. If a player is committed, they are early to practice and stay after to work on their game. They do not let anything besides faith, family, and education take precedence over their commitment to the team.

5. Coaches want players who know and accept their role on the team. Every good team needs quality role players. It is not possible for everyone to have the lead role, but it is possible for everyone to play an important role. Some players will get the majority of minutes and even the headlines, but team success cannot happen unless everyone accepts their role. Players should never try to undercut or bad mouth teammates in order to improve playing time. Coaches want players who are genuinely happy for the team’s and their teammates’ success. Players should not mope, display poor body language, or bad mouth any member of the team. If the player is experiencing a problem or frustration, they should seek a one on one meeting with the coach. Communicate directly with your head coach regarding all questions related to you or the team.

6. Complete required permission form if there is a reason to drive to a game.

7. Ejection from Contest: A student ejected from a contest will immediately be withheld from participating in the next contest. If a second ejection occurs, the violator will be withheld from participating in the next four contests. Penn Charter reserves the right for further action.

8. Hazing is forcing an individual against their will to do ridiculous or painful things. Hazing in any fashion will not be tolerated. A student participating in hazing will be suspended from the team for two weeks, including practice. Any captain participating in or tolerating hazing will immediately lose their captaincy and be suspended indefinitely. Hazing, no matter how “in fun” it seems, is inappropriate and will be dealt with severely. Coaches witnessing a hazing event or having knowledge of it without stopping and reporting it will be immediately suspended. All individuals need to be treated in a respectful manner. No student needs to “earn” the right to be on the team.

Penn Charter Girls Crew Quad

Players Need to Know

  • Players who miss scheduled practices while being in school risk being unable to participate in the competitions. Continued unexcused absences could result in loss of sport credit. Absences due to illness or injury are excused by the school nurse or athletic trainer. Any return to participation after an injury or illness is at the discretion of the athletic trainer or, in some cases, the school nurse. If a player is tardy to practice, the player must bring a note from an adult explaining the lateness.
  • All students are required to have the following four documents on file with the school nurse. These forms must be completed and submitted prior to the first day of fall practices or first day of school for students not participating in the fall sports preseason practices.
    1. Physician’s physical examination, including a health history and immunization report
    2. Parents’ permission form
    3. Medical insurance information
    4. An emergency contact card
  • Dismissals for game times as well as estimated return times will be posted each day in the Daily Bulletin. All game times and dates are subject to change. Although this occurs infrequently, when it does it is due to circumstances beyond the control of the athletic department. Weather-related schedule changes are announced after 1:00 p.m.
  • Players must be in school by 9:00 a.m. or they cannot participate in a game or practice that day without special permission from the division director and the athletics department. Players requiring this exemption are expected to request this special permission in advance. 
  • Players dismissed early from class for games must make arrangements with their teachers prior to dismissal to make up any missed work and/or complete tests or quizzes. Before they leave for their games, players are responsible for submitting all work due in class on that day.
  • Transportation to away games is provided by the school on school days. Players must return on the van or bus unless they are going home with a parent or guardian who has communicated directly with the head coach. A player wishing to go home with another teammate’s parent or guardian must have written permission from his or her own parent or guardian. In some circumstances, Upper School players will be permitted to drive themselves to away games, provided that a permission slip is on file with the athletic department.
  • Students in the Upper School need to arrange for transportation home at the conclusion of practice and/or after games. Students in ninth grade who must use the 5:30 p.m. Penn Charter bus can make arrangements with their coaches to be excused from practice early.
  • Team members are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with athletic
    department policies, the school’s honor code and Quaker principles. Inappropriate behavior, including fighting, during practice or games will not be tolerated.
  • Players are responsible for maintaining their own equipment and uniforms. Most sports will require the student to provide or purchase some equipment or supplies. Coaches will inform team members of these needs at the start of the season. Some sports require students to provide for their own personal equipment (squash or tennis racquets, lacrosse helmets, baseball gloves, field hockey sticks). In cases where the cost of participation is prohibitive, parents should ask the athletic department for assistance. School-owned uniforms must be returned to the equipment manager on the last day of the season. Students failing to return all equipment and/or uniforms will be billed accordingly. Parents and players should be aware of the higher cost of purchasing a single replacement uniform.
  • Varsity letters are awarded to Upper School players who meet the criteria as described by each varsity head coach. Middle School students receive certificates of participation.  

Choosing a Sport

Choosing a Sport, or Three

Participation in sports at Penn Charter is a requirement. The choice of sport is at the discretion of the student. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the athletic program by participating in more than one sport per year. Many professional athletes, including Atlanta Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan OPC '03, were multi-sport athletes. Research indicates that student academic performance actually improves during the season that the student participates in sports. The organization of skills and prioritization of responsibilities required during a season of athletic participation frequently result in improved academic performance, a healthier student, and a student who finds his or her time to be occupied in positive and productive activities.

US girls playing squashIn both the Middle and Upper Schools, it is recommended that the parent and student discuss the various offerings and choose wisely. Sports participation is considered an integral part of a Penn Charter education. However, making a thoughtful choice offers the most promise for a positive outcome. The competitive nature of school sports and the mental and physical requirements of a given sport need to fit the personality and physical ability of the student. At the Upper School level in particular, student and parents should recognize that participation in sports is a considerable commitment.

How to choose a sport

  • What prior experience at the chosen sport do I possess?
  • Have I ever played the sport before? (Less important at the Middle School level.)
  • What are the physical attributes necessary to compete in the sport?
  • Does the sport require special equipment? What is the cost of the equipment?
  • Do I like team sports or do I prefer individual sports?
  • Is there a season when I have a heavy schedule of activities outside of Penn Charter?
  • Do I have friends playing the sport of choice?
  • Will I make the team? (Not an issue at the Middle School level except in the racquet sports.)
  • At the Upper School level, if I do not make the preferred team, do I have an alternative choice?
  • Is transportation an issue? Is transportation less of an issue in one season versus another?

Special Considerations and Playing Up

Special considerations

Tennis, squash, golf and crew in both the Middle and Upper Schools are unique when compared to all other sports offering. These sports are limited by facility and number of players. Choice and participation for these sports are always limited when the student is a beginner. Many students in these sports have been the beneficiaries of professional instruction prior to their play at Penn Charter. Both Middle and Upper School students new to these sports might find it difficult to make the team. It is recommended that this factor be considered when choosing these sports to fulfill the athletic requirement. At times, the school is able to provide on-site, out-of-season, professional instruction in one of these sports. However, students serious about skill improvement in these individual sports usually seek outside lessons and/or instructions.

Playing Up

Middle school students who wish to try out for an Upper School team must follow the procedures described in the student handbook. They may not report to any practices until their participation has been approved by the Director of Middle School and the Athletic Director. The Middle School athletics program is intended for Middle School students. However, consistent with the school's philosophy to engage students in the most rigorous educational program in academics, arts and athletics, exceptional athletes may request permission to play on an Upper School team. Permission is granted rarely, and the following conditions must be met:

  • If the sport is offered in the Middle School, the student must have the ability to be a starter on the varsity team.
  • If the sport is not offered in the Middle School, the student must have the ability to participate on the appropriate Upper School team.

For approval to be granted the Director of Middle School, the Director of Athletics & Athletic Planning and the Upper School coach must agree that it is best for the student’s overall development, will not have an adverse effect on the social, emotional, academic, or physical well being of the student, and is appropriate given the composition of the team.

Any Middle School student participating on an Upper School athletic team is automatically placed on an academic and disciplinary watch list and may have his/her participation suspended at any time if it is deemed appropriate by the Director of Athletics & Athletic Planning or the Director of the Middle School.

The Director of Middle School will take into account the following when determining whether the student is eligible for Upper School participation:
            A.    Academic performance of the student
            B.    Social maturity of the student
            C.    Emotional maturity of the student

The Director of Athletics & Athletic Planning will take into account the following:
            A.    Composition of the Upper School team
            B.    Athletic ability of the student
            C.    The student’s overall athletic development

The parent and student must be aware of Inter-Ac and PIAA policies which are ever changing. If a student participates on the varsity level in Middle School, they may lose a year of high school eligibility in that sport if they transfer to a PIAA or Inter-Ac school.

Playing Time

Playing Time by Division and Team

Upper School Varsity: At the varsity level, selection of starting positions and allotment of playing time recognize the realities of interscholastic competition and the rigor of Inter-Ac play. Our coaches strive to create the best competitive game situation. Therefore, ability and experience, as judged by the coaching staff, determine starting positions and playing time.

Upper School Junior Varsity: Junior varsity play strives to provide an opportunity for skill development, quality competitive play and preparation for future varsity play. Coaches at this level make every effort to have players participate in each game with an understanding that, for some players, the amount of playing time could be limited and could vary from game to game. In evaluating a player, a coach considers level of commitment as seen in attendance record, effort in games and practices and demonstration of skill.

Upper School 3rd Team: The third team goals are similar to junior varsity: skill development, increased opportunity for play, and preparation for possible future play. Coaches will assess a player’s attendance, effort and commitment; athletes who meet the requirements and expectations of the coach and his/her staff should experience playing time in games.

US Boys Water Polo

Middle School Varsity: The goals of Middle School varsity are to provide opportunity for skill development while experiencing the values associated with competitive interscholastic play. Coaches will select players for this team based upon ability and experience. Athletes who meet the requirements and expectations of the coach will play in games provided they give the necessary effort during practice.

Middle School Junior Varsity: The goals of Middle School junior varsity level are similar to Middle School varsity, with the primary focus on skill development. Game play is important but practices are crucial. Coaches recognize the importance of participation for each player in games and practices as it affects individual growth and development. Athletes who meet the requirements and expectations of the coach will play in games.

Code of Ethics for Parents and Other Spectators

Expectations for Parents and Other Spectators

1. Respect the playing of the game and the efforts of the participants.
2. Recognize the officials as persons of integrity and qualification, and respect their decisions.
3. Refrain from creating disturbances that would be detrimental to the flow of the game and/or the safety of the participants.
4. Respect all players, coaches, and officials, regardless of team loyalty. This is essential for maintaining Penn Charter’s high standards of good sportsmanship.
5. Be a positive supporter and role model by encouraging the positive aspects of play. Refrain from sideline coaching.
6. Maintain a respectful distance from players and coaches during games and contests; team benches are for the use of team members only.
7. Refrain from providing food or drink to players during games and contests.
8. The use of name calling, sexual harassment or badgering is prohibited and may result in your dismissal from the premises.
9. Any concern regarding the participation of the players, coaches, or officials should be addressed at a time other than immediately at the conclusion of the game or event.

Player-Parent-Coach Relationships

Each athlete should know the expectations of the coach and the player’s role on the team. If the player does not know this information, the player should request it from the coach. If a parent has a question about his/her child’s role on the team, the following guidelines are recommended:

1. Have the athlete request the information.
2. If step 1 proves unsuccessful or unsatisfactory, make an appointment with the coach for a meeting at a time convenient to each party or ask the coach to telephone the parent.
3. If steps 1 and 2 prove unsuccessful or unsatisfactory, call the Associate Directors of Athletics and request an appointment to meet with the coach.

Be mindful that:

  • It is not appropriate for parents to approach the coach immediately after a game or practice.
  • The coach will have final say on the playing time of the athletes on the team. The coach is present for all practices and games. He/she supervises the athletes in the locker room, on the bus and at all other team functions. The coach knows that player attitude, attendance and other intangibles may be more important than talent to the success of a team. Before making a judgment about their child’s situation on a team, it is important that the parent/guardian is aware that there are many factors that influence a coach’s decision.

Important Forms