The New York State Public High School Athletic Association on Tuesday announced the committee members that will serve on a COVID-19 Task Force to examine potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the fall 2020 sports season and the 2020-21 school year.
NYSPHSAA executive director Robert Zayas said in a press release that his organization’s aim is to begin the fall sports season Aug. 24.
“Two months ago, information was changing every hour,” Task Force committee member and Shenendehowa High School athletic trainer Rick Knizek said. “While things are still fluid, they are not happening at quite a frenetic pace as before, so now we have blocks of time to put plans in place.”
Section II’s COVID-19 Task Force membership includes Knizek, who serves as the Section II health and safety committee chairman, as well as Jim Dexter, chief executive officer of the WSWHE (Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex) BOCES.
“The goal of this task force is to bring together a group of experienced administrators and professionals to examine potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the upcoming school year and to provide guidance and recommendations to the 11 sections of NYSPHSAA,” said NYSPHSAA president Paul Harrica.
It is anticipated the committee will meet for the first time in late May or early June. Before then, Knizek said he will be discussing various issues relating to the coronavirus and athletic competition with fellow athletic trainers.
“I am assuming my role more or less will be when issues and questions are bounced around the table [by the Task Force], I am going to provide input and feedback as it relates to athletic trainers in the state,” Knizek said. “I may be able to offer some ideas that other people on the committee aren’t thinking of.”
Knizek said he is eager to lend a hand to the Task Force committee that was selected by Harrica, with input and consultation from Zayas. The Task Force is composed of NYSPHSAA member superintendents, principals, athletic directors and executive directors in addition to representatives from the New York State Athletic Administrators Association and the State Education Department.
“Being on the medical side of things — this is a health crisis after all — I do think it will be important to be a voice,” Knizek said. “I am very happy to be on the committee and look forward to providing feedback.”
According to Tuesday’s press release, a representative from the New York State Department of Health has yet to be named to the Task Force committee.
“At this time we are planning to start fall sports on August 24th,” Zayas said. “With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis, I want to make sure we are prepared to focus attention on keeping student-athletes engaged in their school communities and active, while also abiding by Department of Health and Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s guidelines. We must have innovative and creative thought to provide beneficial participation playing experiences for students.”
Gov. Cuomo announced May 1 that schools across the state would stay closed for the remainder of the current academic year which, in effect, ended the spring sports season. Days before, both the NYSPHSAA and Section II announced that they would be canceling all spring sports championships that had been scheduled for late May and first weeks of June. Some winter sports championship events were also canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force includes:
President — Paul Harrica (Section X) Task Force chair; Vice President — Julie Bergman (Section IV); 2nd Vice President — Russell Bartlett (Section X); Immediate Past President — Jim Osborne (Section IX); Incoming 2nd Vice President — Tim Mullins (Section XI); Past President — Steve Broadwell (Section VII); NYSPHSAA — Dr. Robert Zayas (Executive Director); District Superintendent — Jim Dexter (Section II); Superintendent East — Dr. Ivan Katz (Section IX); Superintendent West — Adam Stoltman (Section VI); Section Executive Director East — Tom Combs (Section XI), Matt Walentuk (Section VII); Section Executive Director West — Carl Normandin (Section X), Kathy Hoyt (Section V; Principal East — Jim Mackin (Section I); Principal West — Paul Gasparini (Section III); Athletic Director East — Chris Ceruti (Section VIII); Athletic Director West — Scott Barker (Section V); NYSAAA — Dr. Jim Wright (Section XI); Athletic Trainers — Rick Knizek (Section II); District Transportation Director — Chris Durdon (Section IV); Officials — Dennis Burkett; NYS Education Department — Karen Hollowood and Ann Lanoue; NYS Department of Health — TBD.