Section II has formulated plans to provide spring sport student-athletes with an opportunity to compete beyond the upcoming regular season by offering competitions that were taken away when the entire 2020 spring campaign was dashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Section II spring championships events are on the books for baseball, softball, boys’ tennis and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and track and field.
“We posted handbooks yesterday and today, and documents are going out to all schools later this week or next week,” Section II Executive Director Ed Dopp said Wednesday afternoon. “We plan to go forward with spring sectionals and have them done on or before June 16, before the Regents exams or any other school exams.”
The last time Section II hosted postseason competitions was in the winter season of the 2019-20 school year, and school sports were shut down shortly afterward when the COVID-19 pandemic swept into New York state.
“We said all along if we could provide [Section II postseason competitions], we would, but we still need to proceed with caution,” Dopp said.
When sports resumed this school year there were no Section II-sponsored postseason events offered in the fall and winter, and there will be none in the “Fall II” season that is concluding this week. Some leagues did, however, offer season-culminating league tournaments and events.
“It’s great that the section was able to make that possible and give kids the opportunity,” Niskayuna baseball coach Chris Bianchi said of Section II postseason competition. “It’s special. It’s special to have the opportunity to raise that plaque. We were fortunate enough to experience it in 2017 and to play for it two years later.”
Following the condensed Section II spring season that began this week with practices and will have competitions beginning next week, there will be no regional or state-level events as per a directive from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
“Every time I see a student-athlete interviewed or read about them in the newspaper, they are just grateful to have an opportunity to play,” Dopp said.
Section II spring tournament games in baseball, softball and lacrosse — including championships — will be hosted by the schools that are seeded the highest. Competition locations for the Section II track and field championships and boys’ tennis tournament have yet to be announced.
“That will take a little bit of the luster off it, but I don’t think any team that wins will feel any less about themselves,” Bianchi said of the home sites for championship games.
Spectators will be allowed at sectional events on a limited basis.
“As of right now, Section II is following New York State Department of Health guidelines,” Dopp said. “The host school has a choice. Based on the DOH, they can either have two spectators per student-athlete or 200 spectators for an outside event.”
Dopp said that while plans have been laid out for the Section II spring regular season and postseason, he anticipates some alterations in what is still an unpredictable time due to COVID-19 as well as the weather.
“The sports committees have worked hard on plans and protocols and the condensed season,” Dopp said. “Any plan that can’t be changed is a bad plan.”