Town Crier

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association held several important meetings, with the MIAA Tournament Committee making recommendations to not only cancel all state winter tournaments, as well as perhaps moving the indoor track season to the Fall Sports 2 season, which would take place in late February.

The tournament committee voted unanimously to not hold the winter tournaments and the MIAA is expected to vote on that recommendation later this week or early next week.

If that proposal is approved that would mean there will not be any state tournament ice hockey or basketball games, or sectional/state/all-state wrestling, track, swimming and gymnastics meets this winter season.

Also that day, the Cross-Country and Track Committee voted to support giving leagues the option of moving the indoor track season to the Fall Season 2 and the reasons behind that are not only because of the spike in numbers of COVID-19 cases lately, but also due to the fact that there will be no venues to host meets.

According to the Boston Herald, the Reggie Lewis Center is closed until at least January, and most college tracks like Boston University and others, are also unvailable to book potential meets.

"By moving the winter track season to Fall II, it would allow us to have a nine-week season and the option of either indoor meets if metrics allow, or even outdoor if the weather allows," said Weymouth coach Mike Miller in the Herald story.

If this gets approved, it would allow leagues to keep indoor track if there's a suitable track to host, For example, the Merrimack Valley Conference could keep the season and perhaps have meets at Andover's track.

If the season gets pushed to Fall Season 2, that would be from February 22-April 25th. Already, football, fall cheerleading, co-ed swimming and unified basketball are scheduled to compete during that season.

The day before, the MIAA Field Hockey Committee met with a number of agendas on the table including proposals to create boys field hockey teams and another one was to ban boys from playing on girls teams for safety reasons, and both of those proposals were split by the committee.

If the MIAA initiated boys field hockey, it would be a 7-on-7. According to the Herald, Committee representative and game official Katherine Hennessey of Marlboro "stressed that the existence of boys teams would not preclude boys from playing on girls teams, and that the rule was about growing the game and not limiting opportunities."

That recommendation also was a unanimous vote of 13-0 and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Council will have the final vote which would come on June 1, 2021.

The second proposal to band boys was submitted by Walpole parent Michelle Griffin, said the Herald. She stated that "the powerful hits of male players pose a danger to the girls. That proposal was not approved as the Herald stated that 11 members voted against it and two abstained. Previous attempts to exclude boys from playing on girls teams have not been held up in the court of law.

YOUTH HOCKEY SHUT DOWN

BOSTON — Due to rising cases of COVID-19 connected to indoor ice hockey, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a new public health order today prohibiting indoor ice rinks and ice skating facilities from operating from October 23, 2020 to November 7, 2020.

This order is in response to multiple COVID-19 clusters occurring at rinks throughout the state following games, practices and tournaments. Neighboring states including New Hampshire have enacted similar temporary restrictions regarding indoor ice hockey.

There have been at least 30 clusters of COVID-19 associated with organized ice hockey activities involving residents from more than 60 municipalities in Massachusetts. Each of these includes two or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, totaling 108 confirmed cases.

This pause will allow for the development of stronger COVID-19 protocols to further protect players, families, coaches, arena staff and other participants, as well as communities surrounding hockey rinks.

Current protocols include limitations on the number of people allowed in an arena, social distancing and other precautions. This order includes all indoor ice rinks and ice skating facilities in Massachusetts. These rinks and facilities may not operate during this temporary two-week pause. It is effective between 5 p.m. on October 23, 2020, and 12:01 a.m. on November 7, 2020. College and professional programs are exempt from this order.

At his daily press conference on Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker said that youth sporting events such as hockey, “need to recognize and respect the virus” as COVID-19 cases climb in within the state.

“I know the shutdown wasn’t welcome news. . . but youth hockey needs to make some changes,” Baker said at the news conference. “We look forward to working with them to create the kind of framework that will be safe for kids and for parents.”

Approximately 50,000 kids and coaches are involved in youth hockey across the state. Baker said the problem with youth hockey isn’t just the game itself, but rather all-day tournaments where kids and adults are interacting indoors for prolonged periods.

“It’s likely coming from all the activity around hockey, and some irresponsible behavior from parents and coaches,” he said. “Parents and coaches have an obligation to protect their kids, and themselves, and their teammates.”

The cases, according to reports, impact at least 66 cities and towns in the state, and Baker said “the actual numbers are likely even worse.”

“The data is real and probably undercounted due to the lack of cooperation by some of the adults who our contact tracing team reached out to,” he said.

WINTER 5K

The Winter SOLEstice 5K is planning its third annual 3.1 mile race the weekend of Dec 11-13 2020, going virtual in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The race is offering walkers or runners the opportunity to support their local communities, through a chance to win gift cards from Whirlaway Sports Center and Perfecto’s Caffe. The first 200 entrants will also receive a long-sleeve T-shirt, courtesy of Champion’s Choice, and a pair of winter-themed running gloves.

Sole Sisters Running Club (SSRC) is an all-female running club, founded in 2013 with the mission to share their love of competitive and recreational running and support the local community. The Winter SOLEstice race supports the Sole Sisters Running Club’s high school scholarship program.

Those interested in the 5K race can register online by Nov 4 at www.solesisters01887.com to guarantee race swag.

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