ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The longest hiatus for Section V sports in recent memory, most likely ever, will be over on Monday when low-risk sports can begin practicing for their fall seasons.
The wait will be a little bit longer for teams in the Monroe County Public School Athletic Conference as the teams have jointly decided to wait an additional week and begin practice on Monday, September 28th.
The schools in the conference are waiting one week longer to allow more data to come in on the re-opening of schools and to give more time to prepare for the start of athletics.
“The key here has been our league members putting things together, supporting each other, trying to find the best practices,” says Rush-Henrietta Athletic Director Tom Stewart. “Then making sure that our superintendents, our school boards, and our school district administrators are on board as well.”
The extra week will also allow for those schools in the conference to get a better grasp on what is needed to successfully operate a high school sports season during a pandemic.
“We’ll definitely have communication with those athletic administrators and with those school officials in those different school districts who are starting sooner to find out what were some of the bumps and bruises that they went through to try and make this happen,” says Stewart.
The main items that are still being worked out include gameday protocols, safety regulations, transportation, and scheduling. Gameday protocols will be discussed at a meeting Monday, September 21st among Monroe County athletic directors. The first major day of games will most likely be Saturday, October 10.
“I think we can get a good chunk of the typical season in and perhaps have a modified or maybe a full sectional schedule as well,” says Stewart.
Football, volleyball, and competitive cheerleading are deemed high-risk sports that have been moved to the spring by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. They will start on March 1st in “Fall Sports Season II”. Stewart says that those student-athletes are disappointed but looking forward to the March season.
Those that participate in soccer, field hockey, golf, tennis, swimming and diving, cross county, and gymnastics are looking forward to finally being able to play once again.
“The kids who are able to play in the fall are excited. There’s a lot of questions that are still out there for everyone including parents, students, and coaches. The coaches have been very supportive of their student-athletes,” says Stewart. “They’ve been in contact with them the whole way through this, including way back in the spring when this first happened. But I think that the kids are definitely excited.”
Stewart hopes that putting these student-athletes back on the field will bring them a sense of normalcy during these difficult times.
“Coming to school every day with a mask on, it’s a whole different experience for every student who is coming into school,” says Stewart. “The school looks different right now. Athletics is going to look different as well. We’re going to work together with the families, with the student-athletes, with all of our resources to make it the most rewarding experience we possibly can, even if it’s an abbreviated season.”