BALLSTON SPA — The Ballston Spa High School soccer teams took a second chance at having its season begin next week, but came up empty.
This loss wasn’t against a Suburban Council opponent, but its own board of education.
After gathering more than 1,100 signatures via the internet at www.change.org hoping to change a previous 4-3 vote to cancel the upcoming fall sports season, the Ballston Spa School Board voted unanimously to let the sport continue, but in the newly created Fall II season beginning March 1.
“I don’t know why Ballston Spa is different from all the other schools,” Sara Phelps, a Ballston Spa senior girls’ soccer player said. “Some of them have decided to play, I’m not sure what’s holding them specifically back.
“I feel we’re very similar to the ones in our Council. Playing the Foothills [Council] would not be the best circumstances. I would rather play the Suburban Council teams.”
On Sept. 14, the school board voted 4-3 to allow low-risk fall sports to begin Sept. 21 at the varsity level — girls’ swimming, cross country, golf, and girl’s tennis. Moderate risk sports — boys’ and girls’ soccer were not approved.
On Wednesday, Phelps was joined by more than 10 other Scottie soccer players at the meeting, where five parents made impassioned pleas during the public comment portion of the school board meeting and 21 emails were sent in to the board on the subject.
“I feel like we did a lot of work for nothing because, yeah, they’re reconsidering, but they didn’t even re-vote for the fall season, which is what most of the speakers were fighting for,” Phelps said.
Athletic sections and leagues across New York State have made several changes over the past two days, including some moving all traditional fall sports to the Fall II season.
Tuesday morning gave Ballston Spa soccer a chance at a season, later, but came with some reinforcement to Monday night’s decision.
“We got word that the Foothills Council might be going in a similar direction, that presented some light,” Ballston Spa superintendent Ken Slentz said after Wednesday’s meeting. “We also had conversations with the Department of Health, conversations with other superintendents that are involved in quarantining activities, about the changes in rules and the scrutinization that is happening.”
“In my conversation with Saratoga County Health today, they said we’re going to be conservative about this and we are going to very much err on the side of caution. If a player is on the field without a mask and they test positive, the whole team is going to be quarantined.”
Ballston Spa was previously a member of the Foothills Council before joining the Suburban Council in 2004.
As of Wednesday evening, the Foothills Council and Western Athletic Conference will play soccer in the Fall II season. The Wasaren League announced that all fall teams will compete in Fall II.
This isn’t the first time the school district went against its institutional peer groups.
Ballston Spa announced on Aug. 14 that it would not begin in-person learning until Oct. 5. The school district has been operating on a virtual format since Sept. 14.
Also Wednesday, parents and players from the Bethlehem Central School District voiced their concerns as their moderate risk sports were also canceled. Bethlehem was the first to announce a halt to the moderate risk sports during its Sept. 10 board of education meeting.
The Bethlehem Board of Education also voted to move its soccer and field hockey seasons to Fall II.