In a time when there is still so much unknown, Old Colony Regional Vocational-Technical High School Director of Athletics Matt Trahan has made a decision about the school’s 2020 fall sports season. The Cougars will push fall sports back to the MIAA’s Fall II season, which will take place between the winter and spring seasons toward the end of February.
Trahan informed Old Colony student-athletes and parents with an email on Friday, explaining that between the modified rules, limited attendance for spectators — if fans are allowed at athletic events — and the potential of sports being shut down, playing fall-season sports on their tradition schedule is too great a risk. It was a decision that Trahan came to with Old Colony’s administrative staff.
“For us, being a vocational school, we can’t get all the kids back in the building. How do you run a sports program full throttle?” Trahan said. “I think my superintendent (Aaron Polansky) probably said it best: You can’t get two students underneath a vehicle working on a transmission. How are we going to play soccer when you see those modifications? At this point, it doesn’t even resemble soccer.”
Among the state-mandated modifications to soccer, Trahan was alluding to no heading the ball, no body contact, no slide tackling, and no throw-ins.
“I think our kids deserve more,” Old Colony’s athletic director said. “My plan is to give them everything I can in Fall II, and hopefully things will be cleared up and some of those modifications will disappear.”
In synch with return-to-school plans across the state, most of the decision-making power has been placed in the hands of individual school districts. That can be beneficial from an educational standpoint, but it does present variables for athletic directors if some schools elect to participate in the regular 2020 fall sports season while others take the same route as Old Colony.
The athletic directors of member schools in the Mayflower Athletic Conference, which includes Old Colony, have been in communication with one another leading up to the 2020-21 academic year. However, that does not guarantee each school will push fall sports back to February like Old Colony. Westport High School, for example, is still hoping to stick to the regular fall season.
“The Mayflower Athletic Conference athletic directors are currently collaborating to formulate a comprehensive plan for the transition from our typical fall season to the floating season as permitted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the MIAA,” Trahan included in his announcement about fall sports. “Interscholastic sports seasons will look different in communities throughout the state. Our efforts have been focused on creating consistency within the Mayflower Athletic Conference and among vocational schools of similar size.”
The decision from Trahan and Old Colony’s administration makes for a continuation of what has been a strange 2020 for everyone. But the odd nature of the sports calendar is not a huge matter when the athletic director’s primary concern is the well-being of his student-athletes.
“I think we’re going to be better served in Fall II,” Trahan said. “I always kind of go back to the health and well-being of our kids. You have got to be able to provide them with a quality experience. I wouldn’t call what we’re going through right now a quality experience.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, you’re doing it for the right reasons.’ We’re all trying to take care of kids at this point. Just opening up school, there are huge hurdles to jump through.”
By Nick Friar