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Start date for H.S. hockey, hoops: Feb. 12th

State officials give clearance, with enhanced safety measures, for high school hockey and basketball teams to begin their seasons.
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 9:56 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) -

Thousands of athletes, coaches and fans across Vermont were given some good news Friday at the Governor’s press conference

State officials announcing that high school basketball and hockey teams, along with youth sports like indoor soccer and volleyball, may begin playing games starting next Friday, February 12th.

It’s news many around the state have been waiting weeks, if not months, to hear. Governor Scott admitted that the state has had one of the most cautious approaches to approving indoor sports in the nation, but state officials say the data collected from when limited practices were allowed to begin back on December 26th, to full practices on January 18th, show those indoor youth sports have not contributed to virus spread.

However, officials also said that, just like they followed the data in allowing games to begin, they could end just as quickly if the numbers change and that it is up to everyone to ensure that once games begin, they can continue.

“The results we have achieved are far from guaranteed and reflect the hard work of many.”, said Julie Moore, the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, who chairs the task force that is working on the return of sports. “In order for Vermont’s return to play to continue to be successful, it is important that the collective commitment of players, coaches and parents to essential health and safety measures...masking...physical distancing...and foregoing team-based social activities, remain steadfast.”

So state officials have given the green light to start the high school hockey and basketball seasons, and those season will end with state championship tournaments.

Via the state guidelines, teams will not be allowed to play more that two games in a seven day period, with three days between individual games.

The Vermont Principals’ Association had already pushed back the end of the winter season to late March, with the goal of hosting potential hockey and basketball state finals around the final weekend of the month. That would allow, with a February 12th start date, eight to nine games before the start of the playoffs.

The VPA’s Bob Johnson says that’s enough games to constitute a viable regular season and allow for a traditional tournament format to crown state champions.

That’s exciting news for players who have waited weeks and months, not knowing if they would be able to play this winter. But right now, those players aren’t focused on a potential title down the line, they are just thrilled that, in one week, they’ll be back in the game.

“I was pretty emotional honestly this morning because you know being my last year, I didn’t think I was gonna have any games.”, said South Burlington girls basketball senior captain Megan Knudsen. “Basketball’s super important to me so super happy, super excited. Really grateful that we’re given the opportunity to play.”

“I was pumped.”, declared SBHS boys hockey junior Zach Erickson. “I’ve been waiting for this you know, since the summer. And I wasn’t sure if we were gonna get games, but now I’m ready to go and hopefully we have a good season.”

“My teammates have been like, ‘Well, when are we gonna play?’, looking to the upperclassmen for answers.”, said SBHS girls basketball junior captain Mercedes Rozzi. “And not being able to give those answers is really frustrating and heartbreaking because I want to play just as much as them. So I’m so happy to be able to finally have the conversation with my team to like, ‘We get to play, we’re in the game now.’”

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