After getting the chance to recharge over the summer, student-athletes are back to finding the balance between schoolwork and sports.
While the players get back into the swing of things, the schools’ athletic department staff is also getting reacclimatized. Except this start of the 2019-20 academic school year in particular presents a different set of problems for the likes of Old Colony and Old Rochester Regional.
With the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus creeping its way back into the Tri-Town area, both athletic departments have had to take notice in order to avoid exposing students and coaches to mosquitoes.
“It’s like anything else, you have to adjust,” Old Colony Athletic Director Matt Trahan said. “We don’t want to see anything happen to the kids. Obviously, they are the top priority and the fact of the matter is you peel back the practices a little bit, you still get the practice times in.”
In Old Colony’s case, the Cougars generally don’t have outdoor athletic events at night in the fall. They usually have one night game per year for the football team, and they hope to do so again at some point in October this season — and maybe even have a night game or two with other sports — but Trahan is hopeful the Tri-Town area will experience a frost before the targeted time.
For Old Rochester Regional, the Bulldogs have the occasional Senior Night game for sports outside of football, but those all happen later in the year. Athletic Director Bill Tilden doesn’t expect to move any football games because ORR isn’t at home until September 27.
But there is a complication as it pertains to practice time for both schools. The MIAA instituted a heat index rule last year in which coaches have to be aware of the temperature and humidity, and have to adjust or even cancel practices depending on the weather.
On hot days throughout the preseason, the schools might normally practice later on in the day as opposed to late morning or early afternoon. But that has not been an option because of the EEE concern.
“It’s made it tricky,” Tilden said. “While some schools are bumping [practice] back to the night because it’s been hot, we can’t do that. So the heat index has been more of an issue because I don’t really do a lot at night in the fall except for football.”
Tilden has also made one other change regarding fall practices for one team specifically.
“The only change that we really made to our schedule right now is cross country has always trained down at Washburn Park,” he said. “And we are just going to keep them back at the school for a little while until we can get more clearance down there instead of running through the woods, just to be on the safe side. I don’t think it’s a real danger zone. It’s not like it’s swampy down there or heavy [with] mosquitoes, but just to be safer, we figured to stay back [at the school].”
Old Colony has also instituted a rule that until the area is clear of EEE, students waiting for a ride after practice have to be inside the school.
With EEE having been an issue in the Tri-Town area during years past, both long-standing athletic directors were prepared to adjust to the unfortunate news. Now they just have to wait like everyone else until the storm passes.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar