School Board: Allowing Athletes to Play

On September 2nd, Dr. O' Donnell, Mrs. Concepcion, Dr. Bader,(top row, left to right) Mr. Fozard, Ms. Zydney, Mr. Hutchinson,(middle row left to right) Mrs. Bedell, Mr. Leous, and Mrs. Brandt(bottom row left to right) are some of the board members that discussed the application of the new Fall Athletic Interim Plan. (Photo/Cora Bainbridge)

Cora Bainbridge

On September 2nd, Dr. O' Donnell, Mrs. Concepcion, Dr. Bader,(top row, left to right) Mr. Fozard, Ms. Zydney, Mr. Hutchinson,(middle row left to right) Mrs. Bedell, Mr. Leous, and Mrs. Brandt(bottom row left to right) are some of the board members that discussed the application of the new Fall Athletic Interim Plan. (Photo/Cora Bainbridge)

Cora Bainbridge, Sports Manager

On Wednesday, September 2nd, the school board met to vote on the new Fall Athletic Interim Plan, which includes new safety guidelines for fall sports. This meeting occurred because the Optional Outdoor Practice Plan ended August 26th, and the school board wanted to set a new plan in place so that these student-athletes would have the chance to play.

Before the meeting, the SCASD athletic department created the new athletic safety plan for the school year, which outlined safety guidelines for each fall sport. The board hoped to balance student safety with their desire to play. Athletic director Chris Weakland has created a plan in order to improve the safety of the district’s student-athletes.

“The trickiest thing about creating this plan was taking into consideration all the needs of our student-athletes, coaches, and families in an environment where there was no clear picture of success,” Weakland said.

Certain teams hold tryouts before their season can start, and during these, coaches often have to cut athletes. Meaning, that if a person tries out for the team but does not meet the requirements, they are “cut” from that team’s roster. This brought some concern from a few board members because with students having to possibly be isolated from their peers, mental health can become more of a worry if the student-athlete does not make the team.

“I think it does a disservice to our kids to cut them from a team where they are finding camaraderie and socialization,” Lori Bedell said.

While some board members agreed with Bedell, others were more concerned with safety.

“The whole idea of cutting is in the whole idea of safety. Coaches will try to keep as many kids as they safely can,” Dr. Bob O’Donnell said.

When the members of the board had finished discussing the aspects of tryouts and the number of athletes allowed on a roster, the interim plan was put up for a vote. Student-athletes around the district waited to find out the fate of their seasons. The vote was unanimous; starting Friday, September 4th, every fall sports team was allowed to begin practice

Another aspect of this interim plan is that there will be no competitions while this plan is being implemented, but in Mid-September the school board will be reconvening to figure out a safe competition schedule for every fall sport. If this competition schedule cannot safely be enacted during the fall, it could be pushed to winter or mid-spring.

“If we need to pivot and shift seasons, the goal would be to still offer three mutually independent seasons,” Weakland said.

The possibility of different seasons of sports is not the only question up in the air. With the district possibly needing to go fully remote, what will happen to these fall sports? Will these sports continue during remote learning or will they shut down completely similar to last spring? The interim plan accounts for going fully remote; the athletic department is already hard at work to create a remote plan that will allow these athletes to play during their respective seasons.

“All we know is that our student-athletes will need to be connected with peers and engaged in healthy activities,” Weakland said. “We are working hard to outline what a remote experience could look like.”

With a unanimous vote, the possibility of continuing sports, and a plan for remote learning, the future looks bright for athletics at SCASD.

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