PVIAC winter sports update: Few schools begin practice

Staff Writer
Published: 1/11/2021 3:46:17 PM

The winter sports season officially opened in Western Massachusetts on Monday, but only a few schools locally actually began practice.

Monday was the first day the PVIAC allowed teams to practice, though games aren’t scheduled to begin until at least Jan. 21.

Amherst Regional, Hopkins Academy and Frontier Regional started practice. The Hurricanes are sponsoring boys and girls basketball as well as swimming and diving, alpine skiing and cross country skiing. Hopkins has basketball at the school, while its students participate in co-operative agreements with Amherst to swim and play hockey.

Frontier has basketball and alpine skiing and is currently only cleared for practices. The Deerfield Board of Health will vote Wednesday whether to recommend games or meets against other schools.

Smith Vocational will start practice for basketball only if the school is not in a fully remote model. The Vikings won’t play any games this winter.

Gateway Regional pushed back the beginning of practice until the district is off a fully remote learning model, which won’t be until at least Thursday if the average positive rate in the district’s six towns drops below five percent.

Easthampton moved the start of its season back a week because the town received a red COVID-19 risk designation. Towns receive a red designation for more than 25 total cases in a population under 10,000 people. For 10,000 to 50,000, a town must have more than 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positive rate above 5-percent. A rate over 4-percent plus 10 cases per 100,000 people earns a community with over 50,000 people a red designation.

The Eagles are only offering basketball skills and drills and ice hockey practices this winter, while the Eagles swim team will compete virtually. Only Easthampton students will be eligible to compete for the school. Normally the hockey team welcomes students from Hampshire Regional and Northampton, while Hampshire students also compete on the swimming and diving team.

Northampton paused the start of its winter season until Jan. 19. Basketball will only hold practices, and Northampton’s alpine ski team will compete at Berkshire East while the Blue Devils will hold virtual swim meets.

South Hadley and Granby both delayed the start of their seasons until Jan. 25. The Tigers have basketball as well as ice hockey and swimming and diving. Granby participates in co-ops for hockey and swimming. The Rams are only having basketball practices initially but will reevaluate based on COVID-19 numbers in February.

Holyoke can start sports once the town has received a yellow rating for three consecutive weeks. It was red after the latest round. Holyoke athletes can participate in basketball and swimming.

Similarly, Belchertown is on hold until the town moves from red to yellow. The Orioles are offering competitive swimming while just practice for basketball. There will be no hockey in Belchertown.

Hampshire won’t have any in-person practices “for the time being,” according to athletic director John Plourd. Hampshire’s alpine ski team will work out virtually and practice on the mountain. The Raiders basketball teams are holding off on practicing until the floating “Fall II” season scheduled between winter and spring. Hampshire participates in a Nordic skiing co-op with Mohawk Trail Regional.

The Hatfield School Committee voted to not approve winter sports for Smith Academy back in December.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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