New PSAL policy opens the door for student athletes to compete in more sports


Katherine Lian

The new PSAL policy called the “All Access Program” changes the game for high school athletes as they’re free to openly play a sport at another school in their district. 

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At Townsend Harris High School, you play for the Hawks, but imagine playing for the Bayside Commodores or the John Adams Spartans. Through a new program issued by the PSAL, you might be able to do just that. 

In the fall, Athletic Director Lauren Caiaccia shared the news of a new PSAL policy. In her email, it said that “any student interested in participating in a Spring sport that is not offered by our school may be given the option to try out at a different school in our District that offers that sport.” This new initiative is known as the All-Access Program. This changes the game for high school athletes as they’re free to openly play a sport at another school in their district. 

PSAL’s new policy intends to “increase access to PSAL programming for schools that have traditionally been underserved.” The policy brought forth four different solutions to resolving this disparity: New Access, Shared Access, Individual Access, and New Team Creation. New Access allowed nine high schools that had no sports teams the ability to jumpstart two new teams. Shared Access permitted multiple schools in proximity to one another to create one large athletic program to give students more access to a greater number of sports. Individual Access involves creating opportunities for students to attend other schools for their sports teams, while staying enrolled in their primary school. New Team Creation grants funding to schools in order to create a minimum of 6 teams per school.

Townsend Harris students generally shared a positive opinion about the policy, believing that the program would help create new relationships between people of different schools. 

Senior Maggie Huang said, “I think it’s a great opportunity for students from other schools to explore their hobbies while also creating connections.” 

“Personally, I really like to play volleyball and if we didn’t have that sport in our school, I would be happy to go to a nearby school to play,” added sophomore Jaica Derecho. “You can also make new friends and make connections with people from other schools.”

Students also praised PSAL for the implementation of the new program. Senior Michael Zheng said that he “appreciates the thought behind the program and the new opportunities available to so many students in New York.”

Sophomore Jenny Ren said, “It was kind of clever of them to design the new PSAL policy. This is giving students the opportunity to travel to a different school and play for a sport that they want to, even if it means cheering on a different school’s team.”

On the other hand, some students thought differently about the new policy. Freshman Lisa Hu said, “It would be a little difficult to handle as the schedules may not line up.”

Speaking about the new policy, math teacher and assistant coach for the Boys Varsity Basketball team Abid Choudhury said he thought it was a great thing. “There’s a variety of sports and a lot of schools don’t have the facilities or means to provide certain sports. I don’t think any student should be denied the opportunity to play a sport that they love and enjoy,” he said.

Coach Elvis Hanif of the Boys and Girls Varsity Volleyball teams said that he was “in favor of giving all students the opportunity to participate in sports.”

With the inclusion of this new policy, Townsend Harris students can now gain access to sports like Boys Football, Coed Cricket, Coed Golf, and Coed Stunt.

The program will be in effect starting Spring 2023.