The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association fall sports season is set to start soon, but many schools have chosen to opt for the “Fall II” season. Old Rochester Regional High School had hoped to play fall sports during their normal months, but like Old Colony Regional Vocational-Technical High School, the Bulldogs have opted to play their fall sports in the Fall II season.
ORR came to the decision with the rest of the South Coast Conference. There was a meeting held between the superintendents of the SCC member schools days after Old Colony, a member of the Mayflower Conference, opted for Fall II. Prior to the meeting, three SCC schools had already elected to push fall sports back to Fall II and another was undecided, while the rest of the league wanted to take part in the normal fall season that has been classified as Fall I for the 2020-21 school year.
“Interscholastic competitions will not look the same and will need to be played under fairly stringent restrictions with modified rules,” the SCC members schools released in a joint statement. “Currently, to be able to engage in competitive play, modifications should include eliminating deliberate contact, modifying or eliminating intermittent contact, and increasing distancing.”
The SCC schools also noted the importance of the health of those involved in sporting events. Crowd size and transportation issues were among the other factors that led to the league making the decision to opt for Fall II together.
For Old Rochester, the main focus has been consistent throughout this entire process. “This was more about getting where we need to go safely with carefully planned steps,” ORR Athletic Director Bill Tilden said.
Part of the problem with participating in Fall I was sports for Fall I schools start almost immediately after fall semester begins.
“I always thought that sports needed to start after school started,” Tilden said. “The MIAA jumping in three days after school opens — you can’t even find out if you’ve had a positive test in school by then. Our school administration was always on the same page. Let’s start off slowly and see where it takes us. If we get to have sports this season, that’s awesome. If we don’t, then there are other opportunities. But we need to start slowly, go a couple weeks, see how school made out. Maybe do some conditioning or start some intramural and get some kids together with coaches, but you’ve got to first make sure school starts safely.”
Harmony on this matter may seem like a given, but it’s a luxury not every athletic director has been afforded in the SCC. The disconnect within other schools led to the meeting of the superintendents.
“We were always (about) whatever is best for our kids, our faculty and the families of the district is what we’re going to do, but we’re going to take it slow and figure it out,” Tilden said.
Along with the SCC’s announcement as a league, Tilden informed families in the ORR district about the decision regarding fall sports, emphasizing fall sports are not canceled, they have just been pushed back to late February when Fall II is scheduled to start.
“Our goal over the next few weeks is to engage in healthy discussions with the school administrations, athletic conference members and other local high schools to review the options for providing our students with the most rewarding experience possible,” Old Rochester’s statement read. “ORRHS will continue to work tirelessly to provide a realistic and safe athletic experience for all participants and remains committed to releasing updated information as details become available.”
By Nick Friar