By Matt Pascarella
After weeks of discussions between the Maine Principals Association (MPA), Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ office and the Maine Superintendents School Association (MSSA), the MPA has given the green light for a fall season for all sports except football and volleyball.
Both of those sports will be moved to late winter or early spring, although the MPA did give the okay for seven-on-seven touch football and outdoor volleyball.
RSU 14 is looking at some outside skills and drills for the volleyball team. Football will hopefully participate in seven-on-seven strength and conditioning and team building. The school district is also awaiting further guidance on cheerleading but is looking at some skills sand drills for them.
|The Windham girls' soccer team warms up during|
one of the first practices of the season in
preparation for the team's opening game on
Sept. 26. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
Practices for those sports began Tuesday, Sept. 14. The regular season for fall prep sports opens on Sept. 25, except for prep golf which begins Sept. 23.
There will be noticeable changes this season. In soccer, you will see less players in the goal box, and in field hockey there will be less substitute players; cross country will have staggered starts. Unfortunately, spectators will not be allowed during home games during the season.
Because of a low-risk factor, only cross country and golf have been cleared to participate in a post-season this fall. No other prep sports will have playoffs in Maine.
While waiting on Windham High School’s field hockey turf, senior Carissa O’Connell said that she sees the upcoming season as “an opportunity for athletes to come together and show sports are good for the community.”
Even though the season is not what they were expecting, they can turn it into something positive.
Players on the Windham girls’ soccer team are extremely excited to be back playing, especially after the cancellation of the spring season.
“RSU 14 Athletic Director Rich Drummond and Athletic Trainer Casey Sinclair have done a tremendous job preparing us on how to safely run practices and games,” said Windham girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “You can expect to see a very competitive team on the field this fall.”
In the document released by the MPA, state officials and other agencies said players, coaches, staff, officials and spectators are required to wear a face covering when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Face coverings must be worn when not engaged in vigorous activities. Face coverings are not currently recommended for players during play, though they may wear one if they choose.
“This past month with all the uncertainty has been quite difficult, as we kept being delayed and pushed back,” said Windham golf coach Adam Manzo. “I am excited and relieved to have a definitive answer. Even though we won’t have a full season, I think it is incredibly important for the social and emotional well-being of all our athletes to be given an opportunity to play.”
For Windham girls’ soccer senior Riley Beem, it’s great to be back any way she can. She said that she’s excited to start playing games and competing.
Beem’s teammate, senior Emma Yale, said that she’s glad to be able to get to be with her team in a safe, fun way.
Drummond said safety is a priority for all Windham athletes this fall.
“My outlook and focus is for a safe return to play and for people to see the value athletics bring to a school and community,” Drummond said. “For this season to be successful, we need all participants, fans, coaches and all individuals to be involved and adhere to the guidelines laid out by our state. If we deviate from any of this, it could jeopardize the ability for kids to participate.” <