Athletic directors weigh options for winter
Just as high schools are feeling good about the recently completed fall season, a surge in COVID-19 cases has many athletic directors concerned about the already-postponed winter season.
Winter sports such as basketball, wrestling, indoor track, bowling and swimming were scheduled to begin Nov. 30 but have been pushed back to at least Jan. 4.
John Giametta, the Beacon High School athletic director, said he is thrilled with how smoothly the fall season went and is staying positive for January.
“Considering what we were authorized to do, I consider it a wonderful success for Beacon,” he said. “We had an overwhelmingly positive response from our parents and student athletes.”
Unlike soccer and cross country, indoor competitions will present more of a challenge, especially for contact sports such as wrestling and basketball.
“I’m confident we can work with athletes and coaches to create a safe environment,” said Giametta.
The state is allowing coaches to lead offseason workouts as long as health and safety protocols are followed. “We’ll be ready to go if we get the green light,” Giametta said. “If we have to delay the higher-risk sports, we will do that.”
Section 1 coaches and administrators are floating several possibilities, including virtual swim meets — in which each team is in a different pool — and outdoor track meets instead of the usual competitions at the Armory in New York City. Giametta says he feels that swim meets can be held safely and that, if outdoor, track competitions could involve only two or three teams.
“At this point I’m doing everything in my power to allow the kids to compete,” he said.
At Haldane, Eric Romanino, a former Beacon athletic director who is serving as an interim while the district looks for a successor to Chris Salumn, said he’s hoping that coaches and student athletes will be as successful following safety protocols in the winter as they were in the fall.
“The priority has to be the safety of the athletes,” he said. “If we’re given a chance to show we can follow the protocols, maybe we can get through the season. With the numbers rising, it could be tough. We’ll see which towns are in yellow or orange zones,” a state designation that would trigger restrictions.
“Wrestling will be one of the most difficult sports,” he said. “Body-to-body contact, sweat, and how do you wrestle with a mask?”
Romanino noted that “the athletes who participated in the fall were so grateful to be able to play. Students need to be involved in things like this; it’s such a big part of their high school years.”