The suspense is over.
But there is still a ray of hope area high school athletes may get a chance to play their fall and winter athletic seasons later this school year.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, in consultation with the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland, announced Monday, Aug. 3, its decision to postpone the 2020 high school fall and winter seasons during the first semester because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dave Bromwell, superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools, and Dr. Derek Sabedra, supervisor of athletics, said the DCPS Athletics Department will continue to be in close contact with the MPSSAA, Bayside Athletic Conference, and Dorchester County Recreation and Parks, monitoring the situation regarding athletics in the county and in the State of Maryland. Changes, clarifications, and modifications will be provided when available, Bromwell noted.
“It is unfortunate that the athletic competition seasons have been pushed back to February but the safety of the athletes and coaches are if the utmost importance. When we are allowed to play, Dorchester County will be 100% ready to ease our student athletes back into the ‘return to play’ protocols,” Sabedra said.
“I expected it,” Easton head football coach Pat McGlinchey said of not having athletics in the fall. “I really believe MPSSAA doesn’t want to cancel anyone’s sport. They didn’t want to do it last year (spring). That’s why they waited so long.”
As a result, the high school football, field hockey, golf, volleyball, cross country and boys’ and girls’ soccer seasons will not be held as scheduled during the fall, but they are not canceled. The start of the winter sports seasons — wrestling, swimming, indoor track and field, ice hockey, boys’ and girls’ basketball — will also be pushed back until possibly sometime in January 2021.
According to a statement on the MPSSAA’s website, the decision stems from recent announcements of local school systems beginning education virtually, and provides each school system with options for the gradual increase of student engagement for the physical and social-emotional health of students.
The announcement said local school systems will be able to use MPSSAA waiver regulations as approved by the Maryland State Board of Education on June 23, 2020, for student engagement during the first semester. The MPSSAA, the MDH, and the PSSAM will continue collaborating on finalizing a hybrid two-semester plan focused on student engagement options in the first semester and modified competition seasons for all sports during the second semester. Details of the hybrid two-semester plan are expected prior to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
The health and safety of student participants, coaches, and officials is a primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics and activities, according to the MPSSAA announcement. The MPSSAA, PSSAM and Maryland State Department of Education have a shared commitment for the return of educational programs when it is deemed safe for all school communities.
The MPSSAA canceled its spring sports season earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I expected it,” Queen Anne’s County head field hockey coach Shana Corder said. “I am hopeful because it didn’t say canceled. It said postponed. I think it’s a great sign for us coaches, parents and the kids.
“Who knows what it will look like,” Corder said of the season. “But we don’t have to have playoffs. Just let the kids play. Play our (Bayside) conference. I don’t care what they come up with, but just let them have some sort of season.
McGlinchey agreed, and said he hoped MPSSAA would follow Virginia’s lead for a high school football season in the spring, even if it’s a shorter schedule.
“I told (Easton athletic director) Kurisha (Hoffman) back in late June, I just want to have a season,” McGlinchey said. “I don’t care if we play four games. I just want to have something. And I want it to be safe, too.
“They’ve already voted on it and approved it,” McGlinchey said of Virginia’s decision to shift the football season to spring. “It’s going to happen. They’re planning on like having playoffs and stuff. Now MPSSA(A), looks like that’s not off the table, but I don’t know how you even do it. I’d rather have all the kids play and not have a playoff. I don’t even know how you’d determine a playoff for football. I think it should be a conference thing. That would be cool.”
Also on Monday, Talbot County Public Schools canceled its offseason conditioning workouts.