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Playing Public School Sports

 Playing Public School Sports

ELEMENTARY AGED STUDENTS: Students can participate in basketball, baseball, softball and cheerleading at the local elementary schools. This is still considered "rec sports" through Bradley County Sports and Rec. You will need to contact the school about when try outs are and your student will need to "make" the team in order to play. You must try out at the local school where you are zoned. All sign up info can be done through the school or through Parks and Rec. I personally prefer dealing with Parks and Rec since some people at the schools' offices may not know what to do for your homeschooler.

Soccer is available in fall and spring through Greater Cleveland Soccer Association at 5940 Mouse Creek Rd. 

MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: All of our local public schools (middle and high) are under TSSAA organization for sports. They passed a law years ago (2013) allowing homeschoolers to participate in public school sports being under the TSSAA Home School Rule. You can find the current details at this link: TSSAA Home School Rule & Participation.

In order to do this, there are a number of things that you must do:

1) Register your student. You have a few options for this:

  • Independent homeschooler (with the LEA) - This is FREE to do this. Here’s what is needed to turn in to the main office at either Bradley County or Cleveland City Schools:
    • Completed Intent to Homeschool Form
    • Copy of Homeschool Parent GED Certificate, High School Diploma or College Diploma
    • TESTING: Grades 5th, 7th and 9th are required to do state testing. Contact the schools testing admin in the early spring time to do know when the testing window is and what exactly you need to do for this.
  • Church Related Umbrella School - Provide a Verification of Enrollement Letter to the local school district that shows your child is enrolled in a church-related school. An Intent to Home School form is not required for students who are enrolled in a church-related school. 

  • Accredited Online School - Parents may also enroll their child in an accredited online school. Parents choosing this educational option must be sure to determine that the school has legitimate accreditation status and will be required to provide evidence to the local school district that their child is enrolled in an accredited online school.

2) Zoning: As of 2020, the rules are if you are zoned for county schools, you may choose which county school to participate in. Choose wisely, because you will not be able to change schools without changing addresses (transfer rule applies). If you are zoned for a city school, your child must play for the middle school or high school where you are zoned. Request to meet with the athletic director of that school. Here is a list of what the athletic director may need:

  • Medical Forms (Physical) that the athletic director will give you. Most of this will need to be filled out by your student’s doctor. There is a concussion form that you and your student will both need to read over and sign.

  • Packet from athletic director that needs to be filled out with classes that will be taken during the school year, etc.

  • Letter of Liability Insurance - Your homeowner’s insurance must list TSSAA as a third party insured. If you do not have this, you must sign the Indemnity Form for TSSAA. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO BOTH!

  • Letter of Intent to Participate - You will need to write a letter to the principal of the school, explaining your child's desire to participate in the sports they offer at their school. The deadline for this is August 15th of the school year.

So, after all that is completed, you contact the athletic director again and meet with them to turn all the completed forms, paperwork and documents above to them. Make sure to get dates on when things (conditioning, try outs, etc.) will happen because they can forget to keep you informed.

TSSAA prohibits students from playing public school sports and homeschool sports at the same time!

**While TSSAA gives a deadline to turn in all the paperwork as before the first official practice, it is a good policy to turn it in and contact the atheletic director and/or coaches early before the season starts. 


  • Turn in all paperwork several weeks in advance. It is a good idea to turn in a digital copy of all paperwork via email as well. Hardcopy paperwork can easily get lost. They may ask you for paperwork that you have already turned in, be patient and gracious. 

  • Know what you need to have and stay organized – don’t expect them to stay organized for you.

  • Ask advice from other parents whose kids have participated in the same sports, a lot of deadlines, tryouts, information, etc. are somewhat sport specific and it helps to find someone on the inside. They can have some great tips!

  • Check the TSSAA rules every year before the season starts - they can change without notice. 

  • Communicate clearly and often. Reach out to coaches and atheltic directors early to let them know your child is interested in trying out for that sport. Often there is preseason conditioning, meetings, training, etc. that happen BEFORE tryouts and sometimes is mandatory for playing that sport. If the coach knows your child is interested, they can help keep you informed of any changes of dates times, weather delays, etc. 

  • If your sport is not regulated by TSSAA, like archery, you will need to contact the school directly. It is possible that they may not allow homeschoolers to participate. 

  • High school athletic coaches want to win games/matches. They are probably willing to go out on a limb if your son or daughter is going to help the team win overall. Don’t blame it on the school if the child gets cut from the team. Just because you are a homeschooled student doesn’t automatically guarantee your spot on the team.

  • Most sports have a participation or player fee that you will need to pay if your child makes the team. Be intentional about helping with fundraising or any other help the team needs - signing up for snacks, taking tickets at the gate, concessions, etc.

  • Make sure you are getting your child to all “optional” practices and/or sporting events.

  • If your child needs a physical for the medical forms, you can get one from Voytik Orthopedic for $25.

  • Express your gratitude along the way and make sure you are grateful for the opportunities that God has given to you.

  • Remember that this is not just about you. We are representatives of the homeschooling community at large, so please behave! Your understanding demeanor today could open the doors for the homeschool students of tomorrow.

  • It is ok to be firm, but don’t come across as a know-it-all.

  • Here is a letter with additional information - Letter for Homeschoolers about Public School Sports

Updated 03/2024