Option 2: Move games to March and April
The fall sports season at Haldane, Beacon and other high schools in the state won’t begin until at least Sept. 21 under a plan announced last week by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
The association also canceled the regional and state tournament for fall teams, which include football, soccer, volleyball, girls’ tennis and cross-country.
The season had been set to begin with practices as early as Aug. 24, but with that date now moved by four weeks, the result may be shorter seasons. The association also has said that schools must be open for sports to take place.
If the state does not allow high school athletics to begin on Sept. 21, the association said the next option would be to move fall sports to early 2021. Winter sports would run about 10 weeks, followed by fall sports in March, then spring sports in May.
Given the time frame, there would be overlap with the preparation for one sport while playing another, which could cause problems for multi-sport athletes. Section 1, which includes 79 schools in Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties, does not allow athletes to participate in more than one sport a time, but that could be revisited given the unusual situation.
“We’re all trying to stay positive, stay optimistic,” said Chris Salumn, the athletic director at Haldane. “We have the additional month, and now we have an idea of what we’re dealing with. The goal for everyone is to have athletics back in a safe way, and to have a positive experience.”
The state association requires that each team hold a minimum number of practices before competition begins. For football, it’s 10 practices, meaning that a Sept. 21 start date would allow for games to be played as early as Oct. 1.
Ryan McConville, the varsity football coach at Haldane, said that while his players were disappointed not to be able to play in the regional or state tournament, they are grateful for the chance to get on the field.
“Honestly, it’s good to know that we have an actual start date,” he said. “Aug. 24 was looking a little early; I had a feeling that would get pushed back.
“The kids responded well when we found out,” McConville said. “We’ll run a virtual camp next week, and then maybe have another one. We’ll adapt and prepare.”
How confident is McConville that the Blue Devils will be the field on the 21st? “I feel good about it,” he said. “In New York, we’ve been trending very well. You want to see no infections, no deaths. But we’ve seen COVID at its worst, so I remain optimistic.”
McConville said even a shortened season would be light years better than what winter and spring athletes had to deal with. Winter sports were shut down during the regional tournament and spring sports never happened.
“If we can play six games, then have some kind of bowl or championship game, we’d have to feel pretty lucky,” he said.
Salumn said the worst-case scenario — no in-person school and no sports in the fall — would be a tough pill to swallow.
“It would be terrible for our student-athletes,” he said. “They’re such a big part of the community. But kids are resilient, and when we return, we’ll do everything to make sure they have a great experience.”
McConville agreed. “I don’t think anyone is prepared for that situation. All the things sports provide kids — mental well-being, turning young adults into leaders, helping them deal with adversity — they need those things.”