MIDDLE LEVEL SCHOOLS
WSDDCA wants to support middle school and junior high dance/drill programs. The following guidelines are designed to help both middle level and high school coaches.
Contact us! Reach out to our Middle Level Representative.
MIDDLE LEVEL GUIDANCE
The information below is intended to provide guidance. These are not rules and there are no penalties associated with this guidance.
Middle level programs include middle schools and junior high schools, typically grades 6-8, although specifics may differ in individual school districts. The school district, not WSDDCA, determines if a school is considered middle level.
When considering middle level programs, it is important to consider the individual school, school district, and WIAA beliefs regarding middle level athletics and activities. Coaches should work with their school and district administration to develop their programs. The WIAA middle level philosophy is: “Recognizing the unique developmental needs of the middle level student, the WIAA promotes activities that build student success through active participation, increased skill building, and positive sportsmanship.” Learn more here http://wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=886. This page has a variety of resources that middle level coaches may find helpful.
Middle level programs should follow all applicable rules and regulations found in the NFHS Spirit Rules book, this casebook, and the WIAA Dance/Drill Bound for State Regulations
It is important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of middle level teams throughout the season, as these teams do not have any postseason events like high school teams. A positive and encouraging atmosphere benefits both middle level students, and the programs they may eventually join in high school. Competition directors should bear this in mind when determining awards for their events. Middle level teams should be encouraged to participate in competitions, as these help prepare these students for success at the high school level.
Some middle level teams only practice and perform during one middle level sports season (usually about three months), while others follow a more traditional high school season with tryouts in the spring and practices and performances throughout fall and winter (more than three months).
For competitions, directors should consider separating teams from each group to level the playing field. Separate awards may be given to shorter season (about three months) vs. longer season (more than three months) teams.
Schools may host middle level only events. These events can be held any time/day that works for the host school and teams attending. In addition, middle level teams may compete at high school qualifying events. Participating in middle level only events does not preclude a middle level team from participating in events that include high schools. Considerations for middle level teams are outlined in the following sections.
SCHEDULING MIDDLE LEVEL ONLY EVENTS
At this time, there is not a set process for scheduling middle level only events. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hosting an event.
Middle level teams should be scored using the Washington State Dance/Drill Official Scoresheet. Scores are determined using the Levels of Achievement.
Middle level teams should be regarded as their own classification, similar to 1A/2A/3A/4A classifications for high school. Middle level teams should not compete against high school teams.
In creating the performance order, the competition director should make an effort to have middle level teams scheduled by category (dance, hip hop, kick, military, pom, show), not as a separate middle level group. Additionally, middle level teams should be grouped together at the beginning or end of a single category. For example, if there are 10 hip hop performances and two of them are middle level, the middle level teams should be the first or last to be scored so that judges are not moving between different classifications.
Since middle level teams are not attempting to qualify for postseason events, it is not mandatory that they are judged by WSDDJA judges, but judging should follow WSDDCA/WSDDJA criteria.
Middle level teams do not compete against high school teams. They should receive separate awards from high school teams.
Competition directors should consider giving separate awards to middle level teams. In addition, they should consider separating categories when possible so teams that compete in multiple categories are not competing against themselves. Awards should encourage middle level participation to promote continued participation in high school.
STARTING A NEW PROGRAM
People interested in starting a program at their school, it is important to talk to administration, network, and do research. Consider all the pros and cons of a new team from multiple perspectives. Below are some suggestions for getting started.
Is there a demonstrated student interest in dance/drill?
What would the costs be? Consider coaching staff, uniforms, music, choreography, end of season awards, etc.
Would dance be classified as a sport or activity? Teams that follow the season and other guidelines for a sport may be counted in Title IX numbers, which could be advantageous.
Would a club be a better fit for the school, or an easier place to start?
Work with the high school coach/program.
Use high school program/coach as a resource
Model program so it is preparing students for the high school program
Consider planning joint activities that benefit students from both levels
Possible share resources, such as uniforms or poms
Would adding dance take away from another program?
Find out what the school rules are about students paying for items like shoes or t-shirts (not allowed at some schools).
Find out if fundraising is allowed. If allowed, what kind of fundraisers would the team do?