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High school athletes can’t wait to return to athletic competition but Interim Athletic Director Michael Gulino said Croton-Harmon is putting safety first.
Gulino said he appreciates that student athletes, especially seniors, want to play their seasons and many will have that opportunity.
Boys’ and girls’ soccer, field hockey, boys’ and girls’ cross country and girls’ tennis all have been approved to play by theNew York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA) provided COVID-19 safety guidelines are followed.
Football, competitive cheer, girls' volleyball and girls’ swimming will play a ‘Fall 2’ season beginning March 1st, which means they will run at the same time as spring sports. Unfortunately, all fall modified sports have been cancelled for 2020.
Also of note is that Croton-Harmon is in a different league of the same conference this year, which means that it will be playing different opponents than in the past for league play until October 18th. After the 18th, teams in the conference are allowed to play neighboring schools that compete in other leagues, so some old rivals will return.
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, students will wear masks during practices and games and use their own water bottles, which will only be refilled by coaches at water dispensers. There will be more port-a-johns by the fields and accompanying sanitizing stations, and all coaches will have spray sanitizer on hand.
In keeping with safety rules, neither Croton-Harmon athletes nor visitors will have access to
the locker rooms for changing. Athletes will also be asked to wash their practice equipment every day.
Student-athletes and their families should also note that, in compliance with state regulations, schools cannot allow outside groups, including opposing teams, into indoor facilities. The district will make use of all of its outdoor fields, but because the fields do not have lights, games later in the fall may be played on Saturdays or Sundays during daylight hours.
In order to bring everyone up to speed with all of these changes, coaches will be required to complete a course on COVID safety in high school athletics that is sponsored by the National Federation of High Schools, which oversees athletics nationwide. Gulino said that he is confident that all of our athletes will follow these new regulations and that he will ensure that
all teams coming to play in the district adhere, as well.
“It’s my job to be sure that we are doing everything possible to keep our athletes and coaches safe,” said Gulino. “We won’t hesitate to call off any game if the athletes or coaches from our opponent’s team don’t follow all of our safety protocols.”
Section 1 will be releasing spectator and competition guidelines prior to October 10, which is the first day of competition. The district's other safety concern is the physical health and stamina of its athletes.
Because of the pandemic, summer practice was limited to virtual workouts. In order to allow athletes time to build up their strength and stamina, there will be 10 practices before games are played for all sports. The emphasis of these practices will be on conditioning and stretching as well as getting athletes acclimated to wearing masks while they play. Coaches will have the right to forfeit or reschedule early-season games if they feel that their team is not prepared physically.
Gulino also reminded student-athletes that a large part of the responsibility will be in their hands this year, as they take even greater care of themselves, their teammates and their belongings. Parents of athletes also can help by staying up to date via email and the athletics website, and by following all safety regulations. Section 1 will be releasing guidelines for spectators at fall games. While it’s going to be a unique and challenging year for sports in the Croton-Harmon district, we are confident that with everyone’s help, we’ll be able to play the entirety of the fall season and keep our athletes healthy and safe.