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ConVal greenlights winter sports

  • The ConVal Cougar mascot at a game last winter. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/28/2020 9:18:58 PM

The ConVal School Board approved a proposal that would allow winter sports at their meeting Tuesday evening. Under the proposal, the school’s athletic program follows guidance developed by the NHIAA council, and is expected to modify activities in response to changing conditions, such as a local increase in cases, or if a sport proves to be a more or less likely transmitter of COVID-19.

The Board ultimately voted to approve the school’s proposal after hearing from the public, as well as recommendations from ConVal High School principal Heather McKillop and Athletic Director John Reitnauer. Antrim resident and student athlete Brady Proctor introduced himself as the only ConVal athlete to participate in an interscholastic sports competition this fall.

“You have the ability to give almost every winter athlete at ConVal the same opportunity,” he said, adding how much the ability to compete meant to him, and the potential for improving student mental health. “In these winter months, nothing is more important than getting students exercising and socializing in a controlled environment,” he said.

Sharon resident Matt Craig disagreed:  “Nothing about holding winter sports would be reducing the risk of kids contracting COVID,” he said, encouraging the School Board to “be the adults in the room.”

Basketball coach Kevin Proctor pointed to the season’s compatibility with ConVal’s calendar. The District said they were protecting the school community when they chose to suspend fall competition, but the winter season begins while the whole district is learning remotely, he said.

McKillop and Reitnauer said they supported the proposal for winter sports, where skills and drills would start for all teams on Nov. 30, and competitions beginning on Jan. 11, all while the District was in a scheduled period of remote learning. Competitions would take place within an hour’s drive of the school, and all participants would need to sign a COVID-19 waiver and agree to follow guidance for preventing virus transmission. All athletes would stay remote when schools reopened to in-person learning on Jan. 19, along with all other students in their household, for the duration of the season plus a 14-day quarantine. If administrators observe trends indicating that a sport or competition was unsafe, they would suspend the appropriate activities, McKillop said, adding that all sports would be suspended if there was substantial, uncontrolled COVID-19 transmission in the District. The NHIAA currently assesses cheerleading, Nordic and alpine skiing as low risk activities, basketball, indoor track, and ice hockey as moderate risk, and wrestling as high risk for transmission of COVID-19, Reitnauer said. “I have a concern about wrestling,” he said, and suggested that team could have a skills and drills season if interscholastic competition appeared to be too risky at the start of the season.

Some members of the School Board deliberated whether it was their place to go into the weeds and dictate specifics about the season, and ultimately opted to approve winter sports with a caveat that student-athletes may not participate in club sports in addition to interscholastic competition, except at the discretion of the administration. The stipulation was aimed at avoiding outbreaks such as those affiliated with New Hampshire ice hockey clubs that emerged just weeks ago.

Board member Katherine Heck urged other members to trust the administration’s judgement.


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