In November, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs - the state body that governs amateur sports activities in Massachusetts -- provided guidelines recommending how conducting a safe winter season might be possible, followed by recommendations from the MIAA. Approval from the School Committee was the last hurdle to be cleared in order for winter sports to be played - since ME students are attending classes remotely, school committee approval is necessary before play could begin.
“I am thrilled that students will have the opportunity to compete in MERSD athletics this winter,” says Manchester Essex Athletic Director Jordan Edgett. “We are appreciative that the school committee believes in the numerous benefits that sports offer and trusts that following the state and MIAA guidelines will keep our community safe.”
What this means is that Manchester Essex’s winter sports teams - boys and girls basketball, skiing and swim teams will all play, as well as co-op hockey (with Rockport and Marblehead) and gymnastics (with Hamilton-Wenham) will prepare for the season over the next few weeks, with expectations that there will be some similarities to what athletes saw during the fall: Sports that play in the Cape Ann League will play the regular season facing opponents inside their division, with limited opportunity for postseason play depending on the sport.
“The league is planning a similar structure as the fall,” says Edgett. “Basketball will play each CAL school once, with the possibility of a two-game postseason. Swim will also play each CAL school once, with a CAL swim meet at the end of the season - all swim meets will be virtual. Ski will continue to compete in the North Shore Ski League at Bradford. Our co-ops - gymnastics at HW, boys hockey at Rockport, and girls hockey at Marblehead - have also been approved.”
Another similarity to the fall: All CAL schools - including Manchester Essex - are keeping their fingers crossed that no student tests positive. While obviously having an effect on the health of the individual student, one positive test can wreak havoc on rosters and schedules.
“One of the bigger challenges this winter will be managing the schedule when other schools go in the red,” says Edgett. “It's a short season as it is, so it will be challenging to find dates to play if schools are unable to play for any length of time.”