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Forms and Athletic Handbook

Athletic Handbook for IS and US Students

The Potomac School Mission Statement

At The Potomac School, we believe that intellectual development, love of learning, and strength of character are complementary and equally essential educational goals. With a firm commitment to our core values and a rigorous academic program, we prepare students to lead lives of purpose, achievement, and generosity of spirit.

Purpose and Philosophy

Building on the school’s philosophy, the Interscholastic Athletic Program offers students the opportunity to experience the educational merits of athletic competition. Recognizing the strong link between physical and mental faculties, as well as the social and emotional growth that physical activity and team effort promote, the Department of Athletics encourages all students to take full advantage of the variety of athletic offerings during their years in the Intermediate and Upper Schools.

In the Upper School, athletic teams are organized according to ability, and students with the requisite skills and experience will have the opportunity to compete at the varsity and junior varsity levels. Through practices and contests, one of the department’s primary goals is to field highly competitive squads whose athletes exhibit excellence in skill, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, as well as pride in themselves and in The Potomac School.

In the Intermediate School, students have the opportunity to try a variety of sports, coached at developmentally appropriate levels. While IS students participate in interscholastic athletics across three seasons; fall, winter and spring, we do offer the opportunity for students to participate in the musical during the winter season, rather than joining an interscholastic team.

The coaches and instructors of each program work with the individuals and teams to maximize athletic performance and to provide a challenging and satisfying educational experience. Through the effort, self-sacrifice, and cooperation that the students invest in their sports, we believe that the students further develop and reveal, in addition to physical abilities, aspects of their personality and character, which they will bring to other areas of their lives at Potomac and beyond.

In the Upper school, Potomac Girls programs compete in the fourteen member Independent School League (ISL) and the Potomac Boys programs compete in the seven member Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC). The swimming program is affiliated with the ISL, MAC and the Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swimming and Diving League (W.M.P.S.S.D.L). Our boys and girls squash programs compete in the Mid Atlantic Squash Organization (MASO).

Athletic Programs

The Intermediate School Program

In the Intermediate School, Seventh and eighth grade students are introduced to competitive interscholastic athletics. While participation is the primary goal, skill building, conditioning, teamwork, and sportsmanship are also emphasized. Over the course of a season, all students are given a fair opportunity to participate in games. Students elect three seasons of participation prior to the start of the school year from a wide range of athletic activities and the opportunity to participate in the winter musical during the winter season. Teams are formed according to ability, and the number of teams depends on the available facilities. While every effort is made to accommodate the students’ selections, the offerings with an asterisk indicate programs in which numbers may need to be limited in the 2022-23 school year.

Athletics are built into the student's school day and run from 2:00-3:15 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. There is no pre-season for IS Athletics. On game days, the athletic period will end later, and students may take advantage of the 5:45 pm late bus service depending on when teams arrive back on campus from an away game.

Students are required to wear a practice uniform that they can purchase through our online store over the summer. The head coach of each program will describe other necessary equipment and any other team logistics.

While every effort is made to accommodate the students’ selections, the offerings with an asterisk indicate programs in which numbers may need to be limited due to the number of students trying out for the team.

Fall Season

  • Field Hockey
  • Girls Soccer (A & B teams)
  • Boys Soccer (A & B teams)
  • Volleyball (A & B teams) *
  • Football (2 teams based on weight)
  • Girls Tennis (A & B teams) *
  • Cross Country (Co-ed)

Winter Season

  • Girls Basketball (A & B teams) *
  • Boys Basketball (A, B, & C teams) *
  • Wrestling (1 team)
  • Weights and Conditioning Class (Co-ed)
  • Squash (Co-ed)
  • Winter Musical

Spring Season

  • Boys Lacrosse (A & B teams)
  • Girls Lacrosse (A & B teams)
  • Softball (A & B teams)
  • Baseball (A & B teams)
  • Track and Field (Co-ed)
  • Boys Tennis (A & B teams) *

The Upper School Program

The Upper School program is designed to offer students a variety of interscholastic as well as noncompetitive opportunities. It promotes physical, emotional, and social development through regular exercise, practice, and competition. The athletic program also encourages students to further develop responsibility, discipline, leadership, and a cooperative spirit.

The interscholastic teams are formed according to ability. Varsity teams are encouraged to compete at the highest levels. At the junior varsity level, students will participate, train, and compete to the fullest as they further develop their skills and knowledge of the game.

Students are encouraged to participate in each of the three athletics/activity seasons annually. At least eight seasons of activity are required over the course of an Upper School career; with four being physical activities. Ninth -twelfth graders must earn two credits each school year; with one being physical each year. Students won’t be allowed to create a yearly schedule without an accredited physical activity. There is a wide range of athletic, activity and drama offerings from which to choose, and these include afternoon activities. While every effort is made to accommodate students’ selections, the offerings with an asterisk indicate programs in which numbers may need to be limited during the 2022-23 school year.

Waiver and Independent Study

The opportunity to apply for a waiver from the athletic requirement is granted to 9th–12th grade students who are involved at an elite level of performance in their chosen activity. Evidence of performance level must be included as part of this application. Because we believe that all students have unlimited potential, we do not gauge potential ability. Documentation must demonstrate that an elite level has been achieved and must be presented on letter head from the organization that is sponsoring the Potomac athlete. In most cases students will be applying for waivers if they play a sport that Potomac does not offer. 

Potomac will not offer waivers for team sports that we offer, unless a student competes for Potomac in the season we offer the sport in question. 
Juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for an independent study. This option provides them with the opportunity to pursue an off campus activity, not offered at the Potomac School, for athletic credit. All students in the Upper School may apply for one season of independent study for dance, ice hockey, crew, martial arts, or horseback riding each year.

The Independent Study/Waiver forms may be obtained on the athletic web page and must be completed and returned to the Head of the Waiver Committee Nancy Smalley, by June 15, for the following year. Please contact Nancy Smalley with any specific questions.


Students in 9th- 12th grades may elect to manage an athletic team for credit. This entails working out three times a week and helping to manage game-day activities, such as, keeping statistics, running the game clock, running the sidelines, writing varsity game summaries etc. Managers report to the head coach of the team daily. All interested students should contact the Athletic Office.

While every effort is made to accommodate the students’ selections, the offerings with an asterisk indicate programs in which numbers may need to be limited due to the number of students trying out for the team.

Fall Season

  • Football (Varsity & JV)
  • Field Hockey (Varsity & JV)
  • Girls Soccer (Varsity & JV) *
  • Boys Soccer (Varsity & JV) *
  • Girls Tennis (Varsity & JV) *
  • Girls Cross Country (1 Team)
  • Boys Cross Country (1 Team)
  • Golf (1 Team, co-ed) *
  • Girls Volleyball (Varsity & JV) *
  • Fall Play (activity credit)
  • Manager
  • Debate (activity credit)
  • Robotics (activity credit)

Winter Season

  • Girls Basketball (Varsity & JV) *
  • Boys Basketball (Varsity & JV) *
  • Wrestling (1 Team)
  • Swimming (co-ed)
  • Girls Squash (Varsity & JV) *
  • Boys Squash (Varsity & JV) *
  • Weight Training & Conditioning
  • Indoor Track (co-ed)
  • Manager
  • Yearbook (activity credit)
  • Winter Musical (activity credit)
  • Debate (activity credit)
  • Robotics (activity credit)
  • Yoga

Spring Season

  • Track & Field (co-ed)
  • Boys Tennis (Varsity & JV) *
  • Boys Lacrosse (Varsity & JV)
  • Girls Lacrosse (Varsity & JV)
  • Baseball (Varsity & JV) *
  • Softball (Varsity & JV)
  • Manager
  • Spring Play (activity credit)
  • Yoga

Emergency and Medical Release Forms

Parents must complete the Potomac online forms, found on CampusNET, for their child(ren) before they can participate in any pre-season athletic try-outs, practices or start school. Students must also have a Physical Examination form on file in order to participate in sports at Potomac. These forms are available on the Athletic website and are due by August 7 and must be uploaded to your child’s MAGNUS account. Completed forms are valid throughout the school year. At no time may a student practice, compete, or travel without these completed forms on file.

Sportsmanship Creed

The Potomac School is proud of the behavior and sportsmanship displayed by its players, coaches, and fans. We value healthy rivalry, encourage spirited and fair play, and appreciate the positive support offered on the sidelines. To continue the positive traditions that have been established, we ask the community to renew its efforts to embody the ideals of our athletic department and school.

Players and coaches shall at all times represent themselves, their teams and their school, with pride and poise. They shall confine the competitiveness to the contest itself, and shall conduct themselves honorably before, during, and after the contest. Players and coaches shall abide by the rules of the game, comply fully with the rulings of officials, and respect their opponents. Negative comments or gestures are completely inappropriate, and detract from the quality of the competitions.

Spectators, whether student or adult, shall respect all athletes, officials, coaches, and other spectators. Potomac will not tolerate any behavior that is disrespectful of others or that detracts from any aspect of the athletic contest. Spectators whose behavior is inappropriate may be asked to leave an athletic contest. 

Expectations of Student-Athletes

Potomac appreciates the significant commitment and sacrifice that students and their families make on behalf of their teams. The quality of our programs largely depends on a clear understanding of and willingness to abide by the athletic department’s rules and guidelines. We ask that students and parents consider very carefully the athletic department’s expectations. In addition to the guidelines included in this handbook, each head coach will communicate his/her team policies at the beginning of the season.

The following excerpt is taken from Bruce Brown’s “The Role of Parents in Athletics”. He is the Director of Proactive Coaching and a special presenter for the NAIA Champions of Character Program. We would like to share his thoughts on role delineations in athletics.

Player's Role

  • Play the Game for fun
  • Be gracious when you win and graceful when you lose
  • Respect and abide by the rules of the game
  • Put the team ahead of yourself in every situation
  • Accept decisions made by those in authority
  • Demonstrate respect to your opponents, coaches and teammates
  • Be accountable for your own actions
  • Develop a teachable spirit that allows you to take correction as a compliment
  • Accept and embrace the discipline involved in athletics, because it benefits the team
  • Develop the feeling of pride, based upon “shared joy” of the team, and do not have pride that emanates from arrogance or a sense of entitlement
  • Be an athlete of character

Coach's Role

  • Coach for the love of the game and the love of the athlete
  • Put the welfare of your athletes above winning
  • Accept and abide by the judgment of the officials and rules of the game as “mutual agreements” required to play within the spirit of the game
  • Reward effort and behavior instead of outcome
  • Give dignity to mistakes made with full speed and attention
  • Lead with character and by example
  • Put the needs of the team ahead of any individual
  • Constantly work to improve your knowledge and ability to teach the game and the athletes
  • Be willing to confront incorrect behavior or less than an all-out effort
  • Encourage multiple-sport participation
  • Keep the game simple and fun
  • Be willing to work with parents for the benefit of the individual athlete
  • Develop a positive-demanding coaching style
  • Be a model, not a critic; model appropriate behavior, poise and confidence
  • Attend preseason team meetings

Parent's Role

  • Attend as many games as possible
  • Do everything possible to make the athletic experience positive for your child and others
  • View the game with team goals in mind
  • Attempt to relieve competitive pressure, not increase it
  • Encourage multiple-sport participation
  • Release your children to the coach and the team
  • Look upon opponents as friends involved in the same experience
  • Accept the judgment of the officials and coaches; remain in control
  • Accept the results of each game; do not make excuses
  • Demonstrate winning and losing with dignity
  • Dignify mistakes made by athletes who are giving their best effort and concentration
  • Be an encourager-encourage athletes who are giving their best effort and concentration
  • Be a good listener
  • Accept the goals, roles and achievements of your child


Proper conditioning is important for all of our athletes when they are in season or training for the next season in order to prevent injury and to ensure our athletes are maximizing their potential. At Potomac we provide athletes with the opportunity to train for their sport in the off-season. The weight room and cardio rooms in the Spangler Center are available throughout the year for off-season conditioning. The weight room prioritizes team lifts, but our strength coach will create a program that students can perform on their own in the cardio room, in the event a team is booked in the weight room. The weight room and cardio room are open Monday-Friday from 3:30-5:30 PM. Students may not train in the weight room without the supervision of our strength coach. 

Absence Policy

ALL players on ALL teams must attend ALL practices and ALL games. If a player is excused from school due to illness or to a family emergency, the player will be excused from athletics that day. Upper School students must arrive by 9:30 am in order to participate in athletics. Students arriving to school after 9:30 am need the approval of the Dean of Students to practice or compete.

We appreciate that unexpected situations may necessitate a student to miss practice. We ask that the coach be notified by the student or parent ahead of time in order for the absence to be excused. Notification after the absence will not be excused. Each coach will clearly outline the team absence policy to the group.

As part of a team under school supervision, injured athletes must see the athletic trainer, for treatment and/or go to practice and observe. The player must not assume that he/she is dismissed because of injury.

Unexcused Absences will Result in the Following:

  1. One unexcused absence: Conference with the coach(es) and the student.
  2. Two unexcused absences: Coach will notify the Athletic Director and the range of consequences includes limiting playing time to a one-game suspension.
  3. Three unexcused absences: Conference with Athletic Director, coach, and student. Verbal warning about potential loss of credit will be issued during the conference and a letter will be mailed home.
  4. Four unexcused absences: The student will be dismissed from the team/program and will not receive credit for participation that season.
  5. Vacations: Most, if not all, of the Varsity teams, and some JV teams, practice during vacations. The level of commitment on a varsity team requires that the athlete participate in these practices during vacations. Families of varsity athletes need to understand that in order for our teams to be competitive, formal mandatory practices will and do take place during vacations. If you are the parent of a varsity athlete, plan on your son/daughter having to participate in these practices. If your son/daughter cannot attend these mandatory practices, then it has to be understood that there may be consequences for failure to attend. These consequences are determined by the coaches. Consequences vary and are handled by each individual coach. If there are special circumstances concerning a student, then the parents need to inform the coach as soon as possible.


  • Intermediate and Upper School up-to-date schedules and directions can be located on our website.
  • All schedules are subject to change, please check the web to make note of changes.
  • Intermediate and Upper School starting practice dates may be found in Paw Prints, the web, and on the school calendar. The ISL and MAC leagues determine the starting practice dates for JV and Varsity teams.
  • Upper School Athletes should expect to practice, compete, and/or travel during part of a vacation, i.e. Thanksgiving, 3-day weekends, winter break, 2nd week of spring break.


Unfortunately, there are times during the season when students are asked to leave class early for a game. The administration, faculty, coaches, and students are notified. However, it is the student’s responsibility to inform his/her teacher of an early departure in advance. Students are responsible for all work and for all assignments. Every effort will be made to leave campus as soon as the students are excused and to return by the pick-up time recorded on the team schedules.


In order to be eligible for competition in the ISL and MAC Leagues an Upper School student:

  • May not have a high school diploma
  • May not be 19 years of age or older as of September 1st of the school year
  • May not play in both a varsity and lower level game on the same day (ISL rule)
  • May not participate in more than one varsity sport per season
  • May not play more than four years of varsity athletics in his/her high school career

Transportation to and from Games

Potomac School provides transportation to and from all athletic contests unless other arrangements have been made. We ask every family to adhere to the following guidelines: (1) Students may not drive themselves or any other students to games without written permission from a parent/guardian to the athletic directors. (2) Please be sure that each coach knows when a student will not return to Potomac on the team bus (3) Students may not leave campus after school unless they have a 7:00pm or later game or practice that night.

The following statements outline the limits and coverage of the Potomac School’s insurance for teachers, coaches, parents, and students.

  1. Parents are not covered by the school’s automobile insurance while driving students to a school-sponsored event in their own vehicle. Parents would be covered by their own automobile insurance company. Students who suffer injury in a parent’s vehicle would look to the parent’s insurer for recovery, not the school’s. If a student or his/her legal guardian were to sue the school for negligence in allowing a parent to drive, the school’s insurance policy would respond to provide coverage only to protect the school.
  2. Teachers/coaches are covered by school insurance if they drive students in their own cars to school-sponsored events. However, the teachers’/coaches’ personal automobile insurance would be primary in the event of an occurrence; Potomac School’s coverage would cover any excess, over and above the teacher’s/coach’s primary liability limits.
  3. Students are not covered by the school’s automobile liability insurance while driving other students in their vehicle to school-sponsored events. They must be covered by their own insurance.
  4. Parents are covered as volunteers by Potomac School's automobile liability insurance if they drive a school vehicle to school-sponsored events.
  5. Parents and students are not covered by the Potomac School's automobile liability insurance policy unless they are operating a Potomac School vehicle with permission from the school.

Team Training Rules and Expectations

Participation in athletics at Potomac is both a privilege and a responsibility. As members of a Potomac athletic team, student-athletes are expected to make a personal commitment to represent Potomac in an exemplary fashion and to follow training rules to maintain strong, healthy minds and bodies. Because student-athletes are in a highly visible position requiring leadership and responsibility, they will be held to a higher standard of conduct and behavior than students who choose not to participate in interscholastic athletics. With regard to alcohol, tobacco, or drug use, the following is a statement of belief, which was established by the Potomac School’s Athletic and Captains’ Councils in 1994:

“We regard alcohol, tobacco and drug use as destructive of both the spirit and the standard of athletic competition at The Potomac School. Adversely affecting both the body and the mind, alcohol, tobacco and drug use are wholly incompatible with athletic achievement. Student-athletes who choose to violate the training rules jeopardize team morale, team reputation, team success, and most importantly, self growth and personal safety.” 

Members of the athletic department will communicate training rules that prohibit all student-athletes from drinking, smoking, or using drugs at all times. The head coach, the athletic directors, and the Division Head will determine team discipline based on this policy. The range of response may include suspension from a team, loss of leadership roles, and/or dismissal from a team.

Special Situations and Contact Numbers

If an emergency occurs, the athletic director, coach, athletic trainer, or an administrator will contact the family immediately. For daily schedule changes and updates, please check the team page. In case of rain, students should assume that practices and games would be played unless notified by the coach or athletic department. For your convenience, directions to area schools may be accessed on Potomac’s web page. 


  • Web page—
  • Erica Woda (Athletics Director)-–703-873-5578
  • Nancy Smalley (Associate Athletics Director)—703-749-6372
  • Mark St. Germain (Assistant Athletics Director)—703-749-6372
  • Asha Franklin (Assistant Athletic Director)—703-749-6312
  • Carol Hilderbrand (Director of Physical Education)—703-749-6343
  • Precious Barnes (Athletic Trainer)—703-749-6302
  • Erin Mulligan (Athletic Trainer)—703-749-6302

Varsity Head Coaches and Communication

As the varsity head coach oversees his/her entire program (grades 7-12), we include phone numbers so that you may contact them for specific information regarding the season and the off-season. In addition, email addresses for each head coach can be found on the web. We hope that this contact information will facilitate communication between coaches and families. 

For an updated list of all Varsity Coaches, please click here.

Panther Pride

Potomac’s athletic program is the focus of Panther Pride, a volunteer parent group representing different teams in the athletic program. The parents help boost the spirit of the school in a variety of ways. Volunteers will prepare and distribute snacks at the Panther Pit and Spangler Concessions and have the opportunity to help at special events like Homecoming and the Tip-Off Tournament The Panther Pride welcomes all parents.

Team Uniforms, Equipment, Personal Possessions

While most athletic equipment and uniforms are issued, there may be some articles to be purchased by the students. The coach will inform team members of the items needed.

Each student is responsible for his/her issued equipment and uniforms. If there is loss, theft, or destruction because of poor care, the player will be billed for the item and for replacement costs. The school views the care and maintenance of uniforms and equipment as a very serious responsibility for all of our athletes.

With busy locker rooms, great care should be taken to protect what is yours. Personal possessions are the responsibility of the individual (not the school) and should be locked at all time in the lockers provided. Students are expected to clean out their lockers by the dates, which are posted throughout the year. Lost and Found bins are located outside of the boys’ and the girls’ locker rooms, and students are expected to retrieve only those items that belong to them.

Lightning/Thunder Policy

An athletic contest or practice in process shall be suspended immediately when the school’s lightning alert system alarm sounds. Contest or practices will not resume until the system alerts everyone on campus that it is safe to do so. The officials, in conjunction with an athletic administrator, will have the final word on the continuation of the game.

In case of lightening/thunder, everyone should go to the following areas:

  • Gum Tree Field: Lower School
  • Tundra Field: Upper School Lobby or Hallway next to Preston Gym
  • Tennis Courts: Spangler Center
  • Lee Field: Spangler Center
  • Turf/Track: Chester Gym


In the Upper School, the coaches will determine if the player has earned a varsity letter or credit for participation. Letters will be awarded at the end of each season.

  • 1st year varsity athletes will receive a varsity letter and pin
  • 2nd through 4th year varsity athletes will receive a bar
  • Varsity captains will receive a captain's pin

In the spring, all Upper School athletes, parents, coaches, and faculty are invited to the annual Sports Assembly. At this assembly, Potomac celebrates individual and team accomplishments, including:

  1. League, Regional, State and National Honors
  2. The Panther Club Award to those seniors who have participated, as players, on a minimum of 10 junior varsity or varsity interscholastic teams during their high school career.

Senior Athletic Committee (SAC)

The purpose of the Senior Athletic Committee is to provide leadership and service to the student body and community at large by promoting spirit, sportsmanship and dedication to Potomac Athletics and beyond. This committee was established to promote school spirit and provide leadership on athletic issues on and off the field. We expect the members of SAC to be role models for other students and to adhere to and support the school’s policies. SAC is designed to be a service-oriented group striving toward athletic excellence.

College Athletics

Potomac is fortunate that many students possess the talent, interest, and discipline to pursue and excel in athletics at the collegiate level. We are proud of the many student athletes that have gone on to college to continue their athletic careers. The school is interested in helping any student explore realistic opportunities to participate in athletics beyond Potomac. The athletic directors, head coach, and College Counselor will work together to assist the families as they go through the athletic recruiting process. College athletes will gather the Wednesday before Memorial Day annually to celebrate with their teammates, coaches and families. 

Other Athletic Opportunities

To explore other opportunities outside of Potomac School in any particular sport, please contact the head varsity coach. He or she will provide students of all ages with information regarding clinics, leagues, and camps.