PVIAC delays start of winter season to Jan. 4

Sports Editor
Published: 11/16/2020 4:39:44 PM

With the start of the winter season approaching, the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced a series of steps to help schools with the planning process.

The announcement came Sunday night when the PVIAC sent an email to school athletic directors and principals.

The top step was delaying the start of the season to Jan 4. The MIAA had announced that winter sports can begin on Nov. 30. However, the MIAA has not yet released its sports modifications or guidelines for a season. While an announcement is expected this week, it doesn’t give school districts enough time to plan for the winter season.

The PVIAC will proceed with winter sports pending approval from local school committees and health boards.

“As a group, we have decided to go ahead with winter athletics, with each school board giving the OK for their particular school to compete,” the PVIAC executive board said in the letter.

The winter season will look similar to the fall, with schools being placed in bubble leagues and travel being limited.

■Team sports — boys and girls basketball, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls ice hockey — will play between 10-12 games. A ski season will consist between five or six contests.

■There will be no independent varsity games and no MIAA-sanctioned postseason tournaments.

■Should fans be allowed at games, schools must follow the state recommendations for indoor sports.

■There will be no out-of-season coaching and captains practices are not recognized by the MIAA or PVIAC.

“We truthfully know that athletics is the other half of education that help our young students complete their academic mission. The PVIAC believes in assisting each individual school in accomplishing their goals for all students,” the letter concluded.

The MIAA will follow the updated guidelines released last week by the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Office (EEA).

Alpine and nordic skiing are classified as low-risk sports, meaning the chance of transmission of COVID-19 during competition is low. Team swimming and indoor track and field are moderate-risk sports. Basketball, wrestling and ice hockey are high-risk sports.

Each sport with the exception of wrestling (sustained high contact) was giving the green light to participate in competitions, according to the EEA guidelines.

There will not be an indoor track season because Smith College has closed its facilities during the pandemic.

It is unclear what hockey teams will use for facilities. Amherst College Athletic Director Don Faulstick said the school is closing Orr Rink at the end of the semester. Amherst Regional uses Orr Rink as its home facility.

Belchertown uses the Mullins Center Practice Rink. Spectra Venue Management operates the Mullins Center. Erin Sweeney, general manager of the Mullins Center, said earlier this month that the rink is not open for rentals due to current campus and state restrictions. “When campus/state protocols allow us to open, we will adhere to whatever protocols are in place with the state and campus at that time.”

Williston Northampton School closed its facilities to outside use. The Easthampton hockey team will not be able to use Lossone Rink and the Easthampton swimming program will not be allowed to use Babcock Pool.

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




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