Just days before the long-awaiting start of the delayed fall high school sports season was to begin, the Colonial Council announced Friday afternoon that it would be moving the majority of its fall sports to the newly created Fall II sports season beginning March 1.
Boys’ and girls’ soccer, both considered moderate risk sports by New York State, along with two low risk sports, cross country and swimming, were moved.
“You feel bad for the kids, and you really want to do what’s best for them,” Mohonasen athletic director David Bertram said. “What we all have to think about is that at end of the day, we’re thinking of the kids’ safety.”
Bertram took over as the Mohonasen AD in June after holding the position at Cooperstown High School for the last two years. He had spent 21 years in the Cooperstown School District. He replaced Dave Austin, who took the same position at Guilderland.
Two other low risk sports, golf and girls’ tennis, are on tap to begin Monday in the Colonial Council. Five other leagues in Section II voted to move its moderate risk sports, soccer and field hockey, to the Fall II season. The Wasaren League moved all fall sports to Fall II last week.
The announcement that soccer, along with cross country and girls’ swimming, would be moved to March on Friday came as a shock.
“It strikes me as uninformed and caters to a type of athlete that most of our kids would never have the opportunity to participate in with the country club sports,” Mohonasen girls’ cross country coach Bill Sherman said. “At Mohonasen, more than 40% qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
“Learning to play a country club sport like golf or tennis for most of them isn’t an option.”
Bertram, like Sherman and other Colonial Council schools, had plans of getting underway Monday.
“Until today, I thought that it was going to be a go,” Bertram said. “But as you talk with other superintendents and other principals, what is going on in school itself, it kind of made us step back and reflect a little bit.”
Cobleskill-Richmondville echoed the decision-making process.
“We didn’t reach this decision easily, and we empathize with our student-athletes,” a spokesperson for Cobleskill-Richmondville said. “However, we have said from the beginning of our reopening process that there would be no priority greater than the health and safety of our school community.
“We are continuing to work with state and local officials, as well as our partners in the Colonial Council, to find ways to safely return our teams to the playing fields.”
The Colonial Council issued a press release on behalf of its 12 schools.
In part, it stated: “In addition to safety factors, the availability of transportation, schools’ practice and playing field were also taking into consideration. . . .”
That struck a nerve with Sherman.
“To claim that they took availability of school practice and playing fields into consideration is a total joke,” Sherman said. “There is no golf team or tennis team playing on the soccer field or on the cross country course, and football was already moved.
“The fall sports were all spread out among the weekday to accommodate the transportation needs. There wasn’t a day where there would be more than one sport competing.”
Sherman wasn’t alone in his criticism of the decision. In an email obtained by The Daily Gazette sent to parents, faculty and staff, Mohonasen superintendent Shannon Shine stated that the Mighty Warriors were ready for fall.
The email states, in part, “Mohonasen cast the only vote against this shift.”
The move to March in the Capital Region, in the Northeast to kick off a cross country season also seems unlikely.
“It’s a joke if they think the cross country trails are going to be available, safe and cleared in early March,” Sherman said. “It’s much easier to clear a turf field, so somebody at Colonial Council better be prepared to shovel and plow the cross country courses.
“I don’t want to hear, and none of our athletes will want to hear. ‘Oh well. we didn’t realize it would still be snow covered, we have to cancel.’ ”
Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected] and follow @StanHudy on Twitter.