“Hope” remains the key word to enter another sporting season.
The Frontier League, Northern Athletic Conference and Oswego County Schools all plan to host full winter sports seasons, for the first time since 2019-20, and are hoping – there’s that word – completing them throughout state tournaments for the first time since the 2018-19 season.
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic will have something to say about it, but for now the winter teams are on track to do what the fall teams have done successfully, playing from start to finish. the end.
The concern, along with the recent increase in coronavirus cases in the north of the country, is that sports teams are moving indoors for the winter. Virtually all schools in the area require spectators to wear masks during matches and some limit the number of spectators.
The Beaver River Central School District recently released spectator protocols for most Frontier League schools ahead of the winter season. While some, like Indian River and South Jefferson, have said policies vary from team to team and that they will issue guidelines to respective teams, others have protocols in place.
Carthage, IHC, Sandy Creek and South Lewis will not place any limits on spectators but will require a mask. The same goes for Beaver River and Copenhagen, but there will be specific sections for students and guest spectators.
Alexandria, General Brown, Lyme and Thousand Islands do not allow visiting visitors. Lowville will not allow visiting spectators for modified volleyball but two spectators per visiting athlete for other sports. Belleville Henderson will limit visitors to 13 groups of two spectators each and seat them near the visiting team’s bench. Sackets Harbor allows family members of the home team to attend and two spectators per visiting player.
Watertown had not updated the protocol table, but volleyball coach Robin Boomhower said his matches were allowed four spectators per athlete at home and two per athlete away. Watertown boys’ swimming coach Tom Graban said his team were allowed two spectators per athlete. No spectators outside are allowed.
In all cases, masking is compulsory for spectators.
Protocols, along with viewer streaming options, are available at: http://wdt.me/WinterProtocols. Spectators can expect policy revisions and updates as coronavirus rates change.
The winter scene is more complicated than last fall and even last spring when teams enjoyed the freedom of the outdoors. But one need only look back at last winter, when sports were broken down into high, medium, and low risk, and when basketball, hockey and volleyball were repeatedly pushed back and limited to a few games at the end of the season. ‘winter. Some sports, like wrestling, only succeeded in scrums, and spectators were even more limited.
And there are more signs of hope in the Northern Athletic Conference this winter.
During the recently completed fall sports season in Section 10, teams and athletes from all sports overcame sporadic COVID-19 quarantines to make significant progress toward normal. Athletes and fans alike shared the excitement of full-sized crowds for events in all sports, from the regular season to the playoffs and state championships.
At the start of the winter season, all sports should have full Northern Athletic Conference seasons, followed by Section 10 and State Championships.
Athletes in indoor track and field sports and competitive cheerleading are among the most enthusiastic.
Since university facilities were closed by the pandemic last winter, indoor athletics competitions could not take place.
The COVID-19 protocol also reduced the competitive cheering season to a Section 10 meeting hosted by Lisbon, which involved just five schools.
With the ubiquitous addition of “barring unforeseen circumstances,” NAC indoor competitions will return to the Newell Fieldhouse on the St. Lawrence University campus and competitive cheerleading will once again have regular season competitions and a National Championship. section 10.
After a successful season for the only indoor sport of the fall, women’s volleyball, all systems are in the spotlight for basketball, wrestling and hockey at all levels. Provided athletes, officials, coaches, supporters and supervisors wear a mask appropriately at all times, said Section 10 athletic coordinator Carl Normandin.
“We no longer have designations for low, moderate or high risk sports. There are only indoor sports and outdoor sports. And everyone involved in indoor sports should wear a mask, ”he said.
The start of the indoor track season will be announced as soon as arrangements are made with St. Lawrence University.
“We are planning to hold the indoor track and field competitions at St. Lawrence University and are currently working on logistics. We are working together on a safety plan in terms of the number of athletes involved and the number of spectators allowed, ”said Normandin.
Plans are also underway to host a series of modified meetings on Saturday morning at SUNY Canton.
Ogdensburg Free Academy indoor and outdoor coach John Tebo stressed the importance of an indoor season in the overall sport spectrum.
“I’m so happy that we have an indoor season again. Last year, athletes lost so many hours of training and competitive experience, ”said Tebo. “Our athletes are thrilled to have a season and the great thing for athletes is getting used to training and competing with masks on.
“Last spring, outdoor track and field athletes were able to compete without a mask. But they did in other sports.
The competitive cheerleading season includes matches hosted by OFA (January 30), Lisbon (February 18) and Edwards-Knox (tbc), a pre-sectional meet and the Section 10 Championships, which took place in SUNY Potsdam in recent years. .
“We are planning to host the cheerleading competition again at SUNY Potsdam. But our schedule will depend on the college and when the facilities are available, ”said Normandin.
“If SUNY Potsdam is not available, we could use SUNY Canton if their land is available or in a high school gymnasium.”
Lisbon Central and the OFA were at the forefront of competitive cheerleading long before it became an official interschool sport of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
Lisbon coach Jordan Woodside said the level of excitement in the Golden Knights varsity and junior teams is electric.
“Our teams are so excited to be able to perform in front of a crowd again. Everyone works very hard. We look forward to competitions, sections and the chance to return to state competition, which will be held at RIT, ”said Woodside, who is assisted by the modified MacKenzie Church school coach and coach. Deputy Emily Jimenez.
“We had trials, but we decided to keep the 19. Our varsity and modified teams will be mixed this season and we are delighted with that.
Both teams have a boy and we hope that will encourage more boys to compete, ”said Woodside.
Lisbon trainers have open gym sessions once a week during the spring and fall months.
“We did everything we could to keep the cheerleaders active and give them a chance to work on their skills. Just having a short season was really tough, ”said Woodside. “We are also delighted to be back to cheer on and prepare our routines for the basketball games.”
The OFA will play with a roster of 14 cheerleaders according to coach Torie Peabody and believes his squad will be very competitive in the smaller squad ranks.
“We will be competing as a small team for the first time,” she said. “We are doing well. All but one of our cheerleaders have applauded in the past.
As a new basketball season approaches, Normandin stressed that a shortage of officials should lead to a reshuffle of the regular schedule for college boys and girls, JV and modified basketball.
“It happened in football and it will most likely happen in basketball. There may be dates when we just can’t cover every game,” he said.
“There will be games throughout the week and on Saturdays and maybe Sundays. But we’re excited to have all the seasons going and bring the Section tournaments back. We are grateful to the colleges for being able to use their facilities, we plan to use the venues we have used in the past: SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton for basketball, Clarkson for hockey and SLU for track and field.
One team extremely excited for the new season, according to their coach, is women’s basketball Heuvelton who played the season opener at the Saranac Central Tournament.
“We have a very athletic team and the girls have played a lot in the offseason. We played a lot this summer, we played in the JCC League and we fought with the Fury team at SUNY Canton, ”said coach Rob Powers, who has coached Heuvelton for three consecutive Class D titles in the New York State.
Sports journalist Dave Shea contributed to this report.