State Tournaments Scheduled to Return

Officials still cautious with COVID resurgence

The opportunity to test your skills against the best is what any athlete hopes to experience.

After losing the spring 2020 season because of the COVID-19 shutdown, high school athletes and coaches in the Highlands saw the return of limited competition in the fall and winter and the return of the sectional tournament this past spring.

But the missing piece was the state tournament. Teams that won a Section 1 title did not advance any further. But this week, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association said it was planning to again organize statewide tournaments for 2021-22.

The association cautioned that its decision is contingent on mandates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or state Health Department. But for now, the announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June that the state would lift its COVID-19 restrictions gave the association confidence it could restart state playoffs.

“I’m so excited for the girls, especially the seniors,” said Haldane varsity volleyball Coach Kristina Roling. “It’s sad that the last group missed out, but for the players they’ll be so happy they can get the opportunity to move on to a higher level. It’s great for the coaches and the teams to see what’s out there.

“Athletes are used to playing the schools in their section; they know what they’re facing,” Roling added. “But with states, they get to see teams from around the state, most of whom play at a super-high level.”

“It’s great for the kids to continue this movement toward a regular season,” said Haldane varsity football Coach Ryan McConville. “It’s great motivation. If you can win the section title, to be able to move on is a big deal.

“We’ve never won a state football title, but in our last appearance [in 2018] we reached the [Class D] semifinals,” he said. “There are a lot of athletes who have never experienced that — if you win, to get to compete with the best in the state.”

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