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Changes announced to Vt. high school fall sports season

Guidelines are released with details on changes for the 2020 Vermont high school fall sports season
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 10:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2020 at 4:04 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - ‘If we can’t do it here in Vermont, it can’t be done anywhere.’ That’s the approach officials are taking when it comes to the plan to hold a high school fall sports season. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be changes.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Governor Phil Scott and officials of various state organizations outlined what some of those changes will be.

The two fall sports most impacted will be football and volleyball. There will not be a traditional 11-on-11 tackle football season. Officials are working on plans to hold a 7-on-7 touch football season.

Volleyball teams can practice indoors, but when it comes to games, all matches against other schools must be held outside.

Teams man begin practices when schools open on September 8th. If everything goes to plan, games can begin about two weeks later, the week of September 21st.

And face coverings will be required at all times for players, coaches and spectators, and that includes when the athletes are playing. Exceptions for the mask rule have been made for a sport like cross country, where modifications to meets could be made, like staggered start times for runners, can help create social distancing.

All these changes will make the fall season different, and more challenging, but Middlebury High School Activities Director Sean Farrell says it’s worth taking on those challenges because of the important role these sports play in the lives of so many high school students across the state.

“Pre-Covid it was huge for kids to have athletics because it was an important part of why they would come to school every day.” says Farrell. “They knew that they were tied together because of their activities and they were more motivated in the classroom because they knew they had to keep up their academics in order to play sports.

“And having that outlet is huge for their stress levels, for their own mental anxiety, to have that physical release as they’re adapting to the new normal, as we will call it. with the school year. I think it’s vital.”, adds Farrell.

The fall season will look and feel different, but these athletes have been waiting since March for the chance to return to the field and represent their high schools once again.

One thing working in their favor, athletes have to be able to adapt when things happen in the course of the game. When it comes to something like having to wear a face covering while playing the game, Chris Davis, a senior on the Essex football team, says players will adapt and make the best of it.

“Yeah I mean you see some people wear them during the year but I mean it definitely causes some distraction when you’re on the field.”, says Davis. “It’s gonna be a little tougher to breathe and stuff like that, but I think other than that it’s not gonna cause too much trickiness when you’re on the field and playing.”

“Personally I don’t think it should be too bad.”, adds Davis. “n the sidelines, coaches I think will be the big communication issue. I think coaches being able to call in plays, telling players what to do from the sidelines is where it’s gonna get tricky.”

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