Winter sports outlook for area schools

by Tom Utescher
Posted 12/16/20

On December 10, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a new round of statewide restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in the statement was the stipulation that "All sports at K-12 …

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Winter sports outlook for area schools

Posted

On December 10, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a new round of statewide restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in the statement was the stipulation that "All sports at K-12 public schools, nonpublic schools, private schools and club, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are paused."

While the latest regulations apply to all schools universally, the athletic leagues to which schools in our area belong had each been developing their own schemes regarding the form that the winter sports season would take.

The governor's latest COVID mitigation rules will be in force until the morning of January 4. No local institutions had planned to begin interscholastic competition until after that date anyway, with one exception.

In the fall, Mount St. Joseph Academy and fellow members of the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies played a full double round of league games and most teams also participated in PIAA postseason events. The league had planned to proceed in a similar fashion in the winter season, commencing on December 7 with the first team practices.

The Mount got going with basketball workouts on that date, but by the end of last week everything was on hold. League games for the Magic (with no fans in the gym) had been scheduled for three dates before Christmas. After that, the next contests were to take place on January 11, after the newest PA restrictions are due to expire.

Track and swimming were going to be a bit more tricky. Track teams would practice outdoors when possible, then league opponents would be prepared to act quickly to get together and compete (following outdoor assembly guidelines) on days when weather conditions made it feasible.

Swim teams would face even more obstacles, starting with the fact that none of the AACA schools have pools on campus. If sites could be secured, there was talk of limited numbers of athletes racing at a common location. Another idea was to have "virtual meets" in which the competing teams swam in separate pools while an online video link would be established and results would be based just on times.

Now, all of these plans have been paused until the numbers of Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations subside.

Back in August, the Inter-Ac League (Germantown Academy, Penn Charter, Springside Chestnut Hill, etc.) announced a postponement of all athletic contests until the start of 2021. The organization reversed course in mid-October and arranged a brief fall sports campaign running from the 31st of the month through the first few weeks of November.

The Inter-Ac's preliminary plans for a winter season include a starting practice date of January 11, with interscholastic competition (within the league exclusively) beginning either in late January or early February. The season was not expected to extend past the end of February. With this timetable, the league will probably be in compliance with Pennsylvania guidelines, unless Governor Wolf extends the current lockdown past January 4.

The word out of Germantown Friends and the Friends Schools League is that the various athletic directors are meeting (virtually) to discuss the implementation of a late winter sports season.

The league decided back in August not to proceed with fall sports, although GFS was able to arrange boys' and girls' soccer games with Shipley School, which took place on Halloween at Shipley's fields on the Main Line.

Currently, the FSL is aiming for late February or early March to launch an intra-league winter season. The preliminary plan calls for competition to extend through the month of March, and hopes are that this can be followed by a traditional spring sports season.

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