Fall sports picture clearing up for school districts

  • Hopkins Academy goalie Erik Berg, left, grabs an incoming corner kick against Dylan Schmidt, of Easthampton, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 at Hopkins Academy. Fall sports can begin Sept. 18. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 9/3/2020 9:00:57 PM

Several school committees gave the green light for high school fall sports this week, while decisions from some are expected next week.

Belchertown, Hampshire Regional, Holyoke, Hopkins Academy and South Hadley all received approval to compete this week. Easthampton, Gateway Regional and Smith Vocational had previously announced their intention to play.

Belchertown received the OK Tuesday night. Holyoke posted on its website Tuesday that it will offer golf, soccer, cross country and field hockey this fall depending on how other school districts proceed. Hampshire, Hopkins Academy and South Hadley were approved on Monday.

The Amherst Regional School Committee discussed fall sports at Wednesday’s meeting, but decided to table a vote until next week. The Northampton School Committee will discuss fall sports on Sept. 10.

Smith Academy Athletic Director Allison Slysz said the Hatfield School Committee will address the topic at Thursday night’s meeting. Granby Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Alison Jordan-Gagner said the town’s board of health has opened athletic fields for use. Jordan-Gagner said she will address the school committee about fall sports at Tuesday’s meeting.

Hampshire will proceed with golf, cross country, soccer, gymnastics and field hockey despite Westhampton being in the red, according to Wednesday’s COVID-19 Community-Level Data Map. Westhampton was the lone western Massachusetts community in red. Hadley, Easthampton and Holyoke were yellow. Northampton and South Hadley were green.

According to the MIAA’s fall sports guidelines, districts in the red must postpone fall sports to the second fall season that will be held after the winter season and before the spring season.

However, Hampshire Regional’s eligibility is based on Southampton’s color since that town in the largest in the school district. Southampton is currently white.

A school’s eligibility to compete is subject to change and is determined by its color coded designation from the Department of Public Health. The map is updated weekly. Wednesday’s map covered a period from Aug. 16-29.

The MIAA stated that it will develop a timeline for looking at data to determine which color-coded designation a district should fall into for the purposes of engaging in sports. This timeline has not been determined. Schools can start practice on Sept. 18. Golf teams can start having matches seven days later. Field hockey, soccer, cross country, gymnastics and girls volleyball can start games two weeks later.

Frontier Regional, which will only compete against Franklin County schools, has elected to offer golf, cross country and field hockey. Last week, Franklin County athletic directors voted to postpone soccer and girls volleyball to the second fall season.

South Hadley has also moved girls volleyball to the second fall season. The school will offer soccer, field hockey and golf. South Hadley has formed a cooperate cross country program with Granby serving as the host school. Runners can only compete if Granby is approved for fall sports.

Golf, boys and girls cross country and girls and boys soccer at Hopkins Academy will resume Sept. 18 based on a unanimous vote by the Hadley School Committee.

The decision means that student athletes at the varsity level will be able to compete in interscholastic athletes.

Hopkins Academy students can play field hockey for Smith Academy through a coop. Their participation rests in the hands of the Hatfield School Committee.

“Our goal has always been to get kids back in person with this careful review of the metrics,” Hadley Committee Chairwoman Heather Klesch said.

Staff writer Scott Merzbach contributed to this report.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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