No fall sports at Smith Academy; Amherst Regional, Granby gain approval

  • Amanda Novak, right, of Smith Academy, moves the ball against Jade Tyler, of Turners Falls, Oct. 30, 2019 in Hatfield. Smith Academy will not offer fall sports, the Hatfield School Committee decided Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 9/8/2020 11:15:25 PM

Smith Academy will not offer fall sports, the Hatfield School Committee decided Tuesday night.

The committee voted 3-2 to push field hockey and soccer to the second fall season, which will be held between the winter and spring season.

“It didn’t seem like a manageable thing or a safe choice is what people who voted no were thinking,” Smith Academy Athletic Director Allison Slysz said. “Just adding something else on the plate didn’t seem logical at this point.”

Smith Academy is the first Hampshire County school to postpone fall sports.

The 3-2 vote came on a motion that would have moved soccer to the second fall season and hold field hockey in the fall. Smith Academy would have only played Franklin County schools as it is affiliated with the Franklin County Athletic Directors Association. That group announced last month that Franklin County schools will participate in golf, cross country and field hockey and only compete against teams from its county.

Hatfield Committee Chairperson Jill Robinson and committee member Danielle Stanisewski voted to have sports, according to Slysz. Vice Chairperson Heather Cahill, and members Rebecca Bench and Christy Boudreau voted no.

Teams will not be allowed to practice this fall.

“I’m disappointed that we aren’t able to offer fall sports for our athletes in Hatfield this year,” Robinson said in a statement. “While I’m confident we could have given them that opportunity in a responsible and safe way, I know my fellow committee members are coming from a place of wanting to keep our students and the community healthy and safe.”

Smith Academy opens Monday for high-needs students, while all other students go remote for two weeks. A hybrid model starts Sept. 29th.

The school committee “really wanted to focus on what was going on inside our buildings during the school day,” Slysz said.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association created the second fall season for football, the lone fall sport classified as high risk according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).

The second fall season can also be utilized by schools that decide to postpone fall sports.

“I definitely saw some disappointed faces this evening. There’s probably a lot of disappointed families out there,” Slysz said. “I think the kids were really looking for something as an outlet that wasn’t on a screen, or they could be with their friends, play a game that they love.”

Smith Academy had previously offered golf as a fall sport. However, golf was eliminated due to budget cuts following the 2019-2020 school year. Middle school sports were also cut from the budget.

Financial constraints played a role in postponing fall varsity sports.

“Being such a small school we don’t have a lot of money and personnel to be able to handle what fall sports would look like,” Slysz said. “I feel for the kids.”

Amherst Regional

The Amherst Regional School Committee voted Tuesday night to offer soccer, cross country, field hockey and girls volleyball. The school will not offer golf, while volleyball matches and practices will be held outdoors.

The Amherst football team was approved to hold practices as long as the program follows the guidelines set by the MIAA.


Granby will offer only boys and girls soccer this fall. Girls volleyball will be allowed to practice, while cross country was postponed and will be revisited for the second fall season.

Hopkins Academy

Hopkins Academy, like Smith Academy, is affiliated with the Franklin County Athletic Directors Association. The Hadley School Committee voted Aug. 31 to allow Hopkins to have soccer, cross country, golf and field hockey this fall.

The school has a cooperative agreement with Smith Academy for field hockey and since the Hatfield school is not having fall sports, Hadley students will not be able to play field hockey.

Soccer is being examined, according to Athletic Director Erik Sudnick. The Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Association is meeting Friday to discuss fall sports.

South Hadley

South Hadley officially has fall sports. While the school committee gave the OK last week, the Select Board gave final approval on Tuesday.

South Hadley cross country runners will not compete this fall. The school is part of a coop with Granby.

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

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