Gunnar Meland is going to play Division I baseball in college and only had one more season of football left to play.
If the Pine Bush High School senior is going to have the opportunity, it’s going to be in March as Section 9 has moved all fall sports to March on Thursday morning.
Section 9 Executive Director Greg Ransom announced Thursday it is delaying interscholastic athletics until the beginning of the winter season on Nov. 30. The fall season will be played in March and April and the spring season will be played in May and June.
The night before, the New York State Athletic Association moved high-risk fall sports, including football, volleyball and competitive cheerleading to a fall season, beginning March 1.
Ransom said the decision was based on the safety of the students and that many school districts are conducting all classes via remote learning right now.
“I think everyone in the high school sports world is disappointed that athletics is being postponed for the moment,” Wallkill athletic director B.J. Masopust said. “I appreciate the COVID Task Force and everything they took into account, including the safety of the kids. When you’re in a pandemic and schools are not open, it definitely opens up your perspective.”
Miller said there was apprehension about the Sept. 21 date, especially with regards to the high-risk sports that may not get approval to play before Dec. 31. They could have had two months of practice, but no games.
“It still gives us the opportunity to preserve our three seasons for all our athletes,” Pine Bush athletic director Michael Gillespie said. “My hope is all our kids get an opportunity to play the sports they love.”
The state on Wednesday night announced high-risk sports such as volleyball, football and competitive cheerleading can begin practice on March 1 and postponed the start of spring practice to April 19 to accommodate the Fall 2 season. Despite that, Section 9’s season dates are yet to be determined.
According to Ransom, offseason workouts may begin on Sept. 21 if they follow the rules established by the NYSPHSAA and the guidelines established by the New York State Dept. of Health.
Valley Central officials released a statement on Thursday saying they would decide in the near future when offseason conditioning can begin for its sports teams.
Valley Central athletic director Bill Miller said the district is in a hybrid schedule and about 30 percent of the student body is in school per day.
When the NYSPHSAA postponed high-risk fall sports to March and, in turn, postponed the start of the spring season by a month, Executive Director Robert Zayas said there could be a two-week overlap between the spring and March/April season.
“I think Section 9 is going to try to avoid any overlap,” said Miller, who has coached both football and lacrosse, which could have seasons bumping up against each other. “That’s going to cause problems and we’ve already got the kids in a tough spot.”
Gillespie has said that he is advocating for there to be no overlap.
“We don’t want to have a situation where all teams are overlapping,” Gillespie said. “If a team makes a championship, that’s a good problem to have.”
It’s easier for the various sections to shuffle around dates for the fall season as the fall state championships have been canceled for the 2020-21 school year. Currently, the winter and spring state championships are still scheduled, although the dates could change.
“The championships are something we all aspire to work toward, but the focus right now is let’s get the kids playing again,” Gillespie said.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Section 9 in conjunction with our school districts will monitor developments and make changes when needed,” Ransom said in a statement.