H.S. Fall Sports: Games can begin, but challenges remain

Plus, Colchester is ready to hit the ground running with three games Saturday.
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:36 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Agency of Education announcing Tuesday that all schools in the state will move into step three of the reopening plan on Saturday. On the sports side of things, that means that interscholastic competition will be allowed starting this weekend.

One school that is wasting no time taking advantage of that fact is Colchester. The Lakers have scheduled three varsity games for Saturday: one each in football and boys and girls soccer, the first of which was quickly rescheduled from Friday night after the state’s announcement. It has been a long time coming for high school athletes who haven’t played competitive games in more than six months.

“We just kept working, kept going.”, says Dale Colley, a Colchester Football Senior. “We figured you know at some point we’d get a chance to play, and we’re excited to do it this weekend.”

“It’s gonna be awesome.”, as Colchester senior soccer player Olivia Moore. “You know we’ve been looking forward to this for a while and most of us didn’t even have like our Nordic or Far Post seasons, so we haven’t really played like a competitive game in a while so I think we’re excited.”

“Oh we’re really excited, we’re ready to play. We’ve been ready. All we want to do is get back out there.”, says Lakers senior football player Blake Cardinal.

“Knowing that a month ago we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to step on the field, being able to be a part of this team and being a Laker...and being able to have a senior season, nothing is more special.”, adds Lakers senior soccer player Brooke Booska.

However, just because the state has given the go-ahead to begin playing games, that doesn’t mean there are still other challenges and potential issues that may need to be addressed.

The question of attendance at games. Some schools have decided that fans will not be allowed at games. Up to 150 people can attend games. School officials have to decide how best to handle attendance, if they will allow fans from the visiting teams, and how to ensure fans are following social distancing and mask guidelines.

Also, will there be enough officials to cover all the games? Bob Johnson of the Vermont Principals Association told Channel Three Sports that some officials have decided not to work this fall due to COVID concerns.

Some sports, like field hockey, have struggled in recent, traditional, years to have enough officials to cover games. Johnson says its a situation where those in charge of assigning officials for games will have to deal with it as best they can.

And Johnson stressed that it is important to remember the need to continue doing everything players, coaches and the general public have done up to now from a health standpoint to ensure this fall season, once underway, can continue.

“The biggest thing is they know now that we can play.”, says Johnson. “Now, let’s figure out the whole issue of attendance and let’s make sure we have enough officials and let’s continue to play. Because, remember, one of the things that the Governor and Dr. Levine did say is that if anything happens and we suddenly see a surge in COVID-19 cases, we could get moved back to Step II.

If we do that, that’s going to stop games. So we want to make sure that people understand that it’s really important to follow the guidelines that are out there, follow all the masking guidelines, because if we don’t, we don’t want to take a step backwards.”

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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