Spring sports practices in Section 3 will be on hold until at least April 14 due to growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, according to a letter by executive director John Rathbun on behalf of the Section 3 executive committee sent to its members leagues and schools Sunday.
The announcement came during a chaotic day in Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, in which schools were closed until at least mid-to-late April due to the threat of spreading the virus.
Spring sports practices for all area schools in the Salt City Athletic Conference, Onondaga High School League, Frontier League, and all others within the section were initially scheduled to begin Monday.
“I feel bad for the kids,” Central Square athletic director James Drancsak said of the circumstances overall. “That’s the bottom line. That’s the worst thing on our end is the effect on the kids. Everyone is trying to make sure that, if anything else, teams can at least have the opportunity to play the minimum amount of games.”
Section 3 has committed to an open sectional playoff tournament and potential alterations to the state tournament schedule were still to be determined as of Monday in the ever-evolving situation.
“Section 3 leadership will continue to be in communication with local and state health departments and continue to work closely with the NYSED and NYSPHSAA,” Rathbun stated in the letter. “Additional updates will be provided as circumstances warrant.”
He added: “We are grateful to our member leagues for their continued support and their efforts to ensure quality educational and athletic experiences for our students. We ask for your understanding and patience as we navigate these unprecedented times.”
According to some area administrators, schools are likely to request a waiver of the state’s “seven-day rule,” to allow games or practices to be made up on Sundays as needed when play begins. The rule currently prohibits teams from holding organized activities for more than six consecutive days.
Nonleague games that were scheduled prior to April 14 are likely to be canceled, though the decisions are expected to be left to each school, while teams will work to reschedule league matchups without overtaxing student-athletes. Most sports require six days of practice prior to the first game or match.
The section will also allow individual leagues to schedule the start of modified spring practices, but it can be no earlier than April 14.
The decision was the latest alteration to the area sports landscape. State playoff games and championships were postponed for all remaining winter sports late last week, and college spring sports were outright canceled around the country, including at Oswego State and the SUNYAC.
“Chaos,” was the word Drancsak used to described the past few days. “I met with league presidents (Sunday) to go over things, and as we’re sitting there, things are changing by the minute. Everyone wants to know what’s going on, just craziness, and that’s not even counting the school (overall), I’m talking about athletics.”
Three Oswego County athletes were denied a chance to compete in the state bowling championships originally scheduled for last weekend — Oswego’s Eric Carson along with Fulton’s Mitch Donaldson and Alexis Ingersol.
Multiple teams in the Frontier League and Northern Athletic Conference were schedule to compete in state playoff games for basketball and hockey last week.