With two of its five member schools — Everett and Revere — located in cities that are designated “red” by the state’s Department of Public Health’s metrics for COVID-19, the Greater Boston League elected to move all fall sports to the MIAA’s Fall II period scheduled to run from Feb. 22 to April. 25.
The GBL, which also includes Malden, Medford, and Somerville, unanimously reached the decision after months of meetings and conversations with superintendents, principals, school committees, and athletic trainers.
According to guidelines from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, districts designated as “red” must postpone their entire season, including practices, until the floating Fall II season. That would have resulted in the GBL operating as a three-school league this fall. Limitations with scheduling combined with the MIAA’s sport-by-sport modifications went into the decision to postpone the fall season.
“We really took a hard look at what type of product we would be able to put out there with just three schools competing and it was always important us from Day 1 to stay unified as much as possible,” Malden director of athletics Charlie Conefrey said.
“Because of our geographic location, we’re in a situation that most of the state isn’t. It was a culmination of all of that, plus the situation changing daily. We felt like we would be best fit to put all our sports into the Fall II season.”
Previously, the GBL had decided to move girls’ volleyball to the Fall II season, joining football and competitive cheer, both of which were deemed high-risk sports by the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Conefrey said the league considered low-risk sports, such as golf and cross-country this fall, if Everett and Revere had moved out of the red designation by Oct. 1. But they ultimately dismissed that plan because of the unpredictability of the virus.
While all five Greater Boston League schools will begin the school year with remote learning next week, Malden, Medford, and Somerville are finalizing plans for practices and training this fall. Last month, the MIAA approved out-of-season coaching, contingent upon decisions by leagues and the individual school districts. Everett and Revere, however, will not be able to participate in any activities this fall.
Conefrey said the league has already begun preparing guidelines for the winter season, scheduled from Nov. 30 to Feb. 21, as it hopes to get student-athletes back in competition.
“It’s not an easy decision and I feel for the kids,” Conefrey said. “Hopefully things get better. Aside from athletic competition, the thing our kids are missing is the face-to-face interaction with their coaches and peers, and playing a sport that they love.”
Bay State Conference unveils Fall I plan
The Bay State Conference will compete in soccer, cross-country, golf, field hockey, and girls’ swimming this fall, but has pushed girls’ volleyball to the Fall II season along with football, competitive cheer, and unified basketball.
The 10-team league unanimously approved the plan to postpone volleyball since many school districts are using their gymnasiums as classrooms and cafeterias, and don’t want to bring outsiders into the building.
The BSC will begin preseason practices on Sept. 21 and conduct schedules of 8 to 10 games starting the first week of October. Each school will be placed in a pod and play the same school in all sports for the entire week.
“We’re trying to get in as many sports as we can right now not knowing what tomorrow will bring,” Walpole athletic director Ron Dowd said
“For us, it just made more sense to hold off on volleyball and push it to the Fall II. This is for the good of the league, the good of the kids, the good of the school departments. The sentiment is, we’re just going to do the best we can and give the kids the best experience that we can.”