Athletes cry with joy as high-risk sports can finally start

High School Sports

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — High-risk sports can resume on Feb.1, as long as County health departments say yes. 

The move comes after the governor’s office announced the new guidelines.

News that Bella Houseknecht could finally have the chance to participate in sports for her senior year of high school left her speechless. 

“So finally hearing this, it was just a relief lifted off my shoulders and I just ran to my mom and started crying because I was beyond happy, there’s no words to describe how happy I was,” said Bella Houseknecht, senior Volleyball & basketball player.

Her mom happens to be her volleyball coach at Batavia High.

Volleyball is considered higher risk along with football, hockey, and others. Practice for these sports could start as soon as February, with competition seasons starting in March if county health departments give the green light. 

“If everyone does get the green light, we might have some overlap with a week or two of basketball, a week or two of softball. And that the coaches we just need to work together for practices.  The girls, if they’re multisport, they might have a basketball game on Monday and a volleyball game on Thursday,” said Kim Houseknecht, Batavia High Volleyball Coach.

According to the director of athletics for the Hilton central school district, this could mean shorter seasons as the new schedule will need to include winter and fall high risk sports, as well as the normal spring sports.  

“We were able to do it with what was considered moderate and low risk sports in the fall and currently in the winter. So were excited to roll our sleeves up, put that planning in place and offer those opportunities for our kids,” said Mike Giruzzi, Hilton Central School District Director of athletics and physical education.

But they say it will work, with keeping kids safe the number one goal. 

And those that fought in Albany for restrictions t for high-risk sports to be lifted like Karl Schlifke are just glad this moment is finally here. 

“I think it was a collective effort of a great community of people and I’m proud to be part of it and I’m just praying that the kids have a good year,” said Karl Schlifke, a Penfield hockey dad.

In a joint statement Public health commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza and Monroe county executive Adam bello said;

“We support allowing these activities to begin in Monroe County…[and] The return of high school sports will give them a sense of normalcy, and an opportunity to compete with their friends and classmates.” 

Dr. Michael Mendoza & Adam Bello joint statement

Monroe County leaders say they will begin meeting with area school leadership in the coming days to develop plans.

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