By Roger Rubin
There will be sports at CHSAA schools across Long Island this fall. The Nassau Suffolk Catholic High School Athletic Association will follow the state guidelines for bringing back sports during the coronavirus pandemic and be even more cautious in some areas.
After receiving approval from the CHSAA principals in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the NSCHSAA — both the boys and girls associations — voted to sponsor fall sports as set forth by the state, according to a statement they released on Thursday.
Boys soccer, girls soccer, boys cross country, girls cross country, girls swimming and girls tennis would start practices on Sept. 21 with a goal of starting competition on or about Columbus Day weekend.
The statement said football, girls volleyball and cheerleading may begin practice on Sept. 21 with no competition until further notice. All have been classified as high risk by the state.
“We are taking things cautiously and slowly, but we are moving forward,” NSCHSAA boys president Ralph Dalton said. He said that the CHSAA would likely only play teams in their own league but added “that’s only if we get to the place where we can play games — this is baby steps toward that, if you will.”
“Games would be great but that’s not the priority here,” said Lorraine Bouklas, president of the girls CHSAA. “We want to have the kids back, we want them to bond and we want something that looks closer to normalcy. We’re going to tread slowly toward the goal of [playing] games.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave guidance last Monday on how high schools could bring back interscholastic athletics beginning with low-risk sports practicing and playing on Sept. 21. Section XI, which governs Suffolk high school sports, is also going forward with plans for fall sports.
Section VIII, which governs Nassau, opted to play no sports in the fall and have three compressed seasons from January through June of 2021.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is expected to issue a document on Friday with specific details on requirements for conducting each sport. It was drafted by the NYSPHSAA COVID Task Force, a collection of officials from across the state, assembled to make protocols for playing high school sports during the pandemic. They are expected to include transportation and disinfecting procedures to be followed.
There are some instructions that the CHSAA is expanding on. In a typical season, teams are required six days of practice before competition. This year the state has recommended 10 because student-athletes haven’t been competing in any public school sports since the COVID-19 outbreak halted interscholastic athletics in March. The CHSAA will allocate for even more practice time before competition would start.
“Doing things safely is the priority, but we want the benefits of athletics for our students,” Dalton said.
“Fall sports won’t be what they’ve been in the past,” Bouklas said. “We hope it’s just this one year.”