By Greg Starks
With COVID-19 still a threat and no
current vaccine available, the athletic seasons for most intercollegiate and
high school teams are up in the air.
High schools …
By Greg Starks
With COVID-19 still a threat and no current vaccine available, the athletic seasons for most intercollegiate and high school teams are up in the air.
High schools around the county are trying to come up with a plan of action on how to continue with the scheduled athletic season. For the Inter-Academic League (Inter-Ac), a high school league consisting of private high schools within the Delaware Valley: the Academy of Notre Dame, Agnes Irwin School, Baldwin School, Episcopal Academy, Germantown Academy, the Haverford School, Malvern Prep, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) and Penn Charter; the future of the league is still uncertain and the league’s athletic directors are in constant meetings trying to plan the season.
The Athletic Director for SCH, David Wilson, believes that SCH will try to play the teams that they currently have scheduled. But that will most likely change as the threat of catching COVID-19 persists.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” said Wilson of playing outside the league. “We’re looking at that. Transportation is an issue, with busing and how many people they can hold. Other than that we’re looking at potentially playing just the Inter-Ac schools.”
Wilson made clear that everything is tentative. He said there was a possible problem with playing an Inter-Ac only schedule because the schools are spread out among a number of different counties. Some counties have different rules than others when it comes to dealing with the virus, which makes following a schedule even more complicated because all of the variations would have to be taken into account when the directors set their schedule.
If the schools decide to play an Inter-Ac only schedule, they will also look at possibly having a later start to the season, which, again, will depend on county guidelines at the time.
Wilson said that he and his follow athletic directors are looking at how different each sport is.
“The National Federation of High Schools has listed the highest risk sports, the medium risk sports and the lowest risk sports,” he said. “We’re looking at that, too, for each season. We have a lot of contingency plans. We haven't made anything final yet, because things are changing so much.”
With the way everything is looking now, there might not be an official plan until August 15. If things don’t get better, there’s even a virtual plan being looked at. There is still hope, though, Wilson said, that games will be played during the fall and that a ready-to-go schedule will be finalized by that time.
A big point of discussion Wilson is currently mulling over is middle school sports.
“Middle school sports are a whole different ball game,” said Wilson. “What’s going to happen with middle school? Do we all do an in-house program? Is that the safest way to go with that group? With transportation issues and with cohorting, will that be the best way to go as opposed to playing an Inter-Ac schedule? So we’re looking at that, too, at that middle school level.”
Wilson and the other athletic directors understand just how much sports means to all of the young athletes involved.
“We want to have a great experience for all of our student-athletes in the fall here,” said Wilson. “It broke my heart and everyone’s heart in the spring when we had to cancel, that was just awful. With all the colleges, some conferences have pulled the plug on their fall...We fear, as ADs, that this” might be coming to the high school level as well too, I don’t know.
SCH has allowed football, soccer (boys and girls) and field hockey players to go back on the field and have workouts together. The players had to sign a waiver and have their parents do a daily check to make sure that they aren’t potentially sick. There is also social distancing and mask-wearing being implemented as these workouts are taking place. The situation may seem bleak at the moment, but with players slowly being allowed to practice again, it gives hope to all of us that sports will be returning in the fall.
Gregory Starks is a rising senior at SCH and currently serving a summer internship at the Local.