Added Headaches for Co-op Teams?

Burlington-South Burlington Seawolves have additional issues to overcome in COVID era
Published: Sep. 20, 2020 at 1:58 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - This has been an ever-evolving slog of a year, where the only constant is last-minute change. Here in Vermont, high schools are attempting to get the Fall sports season off the ground, but there are still a number of hurdles that have to be overcome.

While everyone is dealing with the difficult circumstances, there is one one kind of team that has to handle an added layer of complications in order to play this season. Co-op teams are made up of players from multiple schools because one or more of the schools doesn’t have enough interested students to field their own teams. They have become more and more prevalent in the state of Vermont in recent years, and there are a handful of co-op teams playing football this Fall. That includes one at the D1 level: the Burlington-South Burlington Seawolves.

“A couple months ago, we didn’t know we were gonna be able to play," said senior quarterback and BHS student Bassiru Diawara. "Just knowing we’re gonna be able to get out there and actually play’s great.”

Now it’s hard enough for teams made up of players from one school to get together and all practice this year, but the logistical hurdles for two schools are that much tougher.

“The biggest challenges that we really face are transportation and just really go through the health screening process,” said Seawolves head coach Joe McDonald.

Fortunately the Seawolves have found a way around that.

“They’ve got it kind of on lock with the bus system,” said Matt Campbell, an SBHS senior and Seawolves tight end. "A lot of seniors are helping out with driving and stuff.”

“Kids from Burlington go through a screening process before they even get onto the bus, which is a good thing so we can kind of reduce any chance of infection before they even get on the bus," McDonald said. "And then when everyone gets here, we do the same thing again.”

Even the closure of the BHS building for the rest of the semester hasn’t made things too difficult given how adaptable the kids have become to an ever-changing situation.

“Yeah it’s a little hard that we’re not in school right now knowing that COVID’s not the reason why,” Diawara added. "So we’re all online, we’re doing our schoolwork online. Just getting that done, getting here and practicing. Everything’s the same.”

That flexibility could continue to prove useful. The VPA announced Friday that the Agency of Education had not given the green light for schools to move into step three of their reopening process, which on the sports side of things means interscholastic competition can’t begin on Monday as planned. It’s unclear at this point whether that will wipe out next weekend’s football games, but given everything they’ve already had to adapt to, don’t expect it to rattle the Seawolves.

“We’re gonna prepare for next week because that’s on our schedule so we’re not worried about if anything happens," Diawara said.

“Everyone really is used to the fact that everything is evolving,” added McDonald. "I don’t see it being an issue. We’re doing an intrasquad tomorrow to prepare for next Friday for our home opener hopefully. If we don’t have that, we’ll do an intrasquad.”

“At this point, we’re kinda just happy to be playing with each other," Campbell said. "We don’t know what’s gonna come for the future. I mean we’re hoping for the best but we’re playing with what we got.”

The Seawolves were supposed to host BFA Fairfax on Friday, but if that game is canceled, they’d next play at Rice on Wednesday the 30th.

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