The Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association is going to implement league-wide game day safety procedures as it prepares for the start of league play next week.
At a meeting Wednesday, athletic directors agreed to implement policies that include mask break timeouts, the maximizing of social distancing, limiting the number of people at the scorer’s table, the suspension of postgame handshakes and the eliminating of shared basketballs by schools for warmups.
That information and the guidelines are expected for review Friday and are being drafted by Mid Valley athletic director Tommy Nowakowski and Blue Ridge athletic director Scott Summers, who are their schools’ athletic trainers, LIAA athletic director president Joe Gilhool said.
The group will reconvene Jan. 20 to approve the agreed upon procedures.
Also, the LIAA will continue with its league adopted schedules with the official start date of Jan. 21. As of the meeting, Honesdale and Montrose are unable to start their regular seasons on time due to virtual learning at their schools.
The Wayne-Highlands school board voted to continue with virtual learning until Jan. 19. The earliest Honesdale could start playing contests is Jan. 27. That would force Honesdale games against Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack scheduled for the first two play dates to be rescheduled. Montrose, which still needs three practices to complete its state-required 10, cannot return to play until at least Jan. 28 and will need games against Susquehanna, Lackawanna Trail and Blue Ridge delayed as COVID-related postponements.
Wallenpaupack, which also will get back to in-person learning Jan. 19, should have its teams ready to start on time based on meeting the state-required 10 practices guideline.
Mountain View, which is restricted to competing against schools from Susquehanna County, will play Lackawanna Trail and Forest City because both schools are in Division IV of the Lackawanna League, athletic director Jan Price said. However, the Eagles’ crossover games against Old Forge are canceled.
“I am optimistic that we will get some sort of a season for the winter in,” Gilhool said. “There probably will be some changes to the original schedule and everyone is going to have to be flexible as they were in the fall. Tommy Nowakowski for boys basketball, Brian Durkin for girls basketball, Chris Ross for wrestling and Scott Gower for swimming, did an excellent job with the task they were given in a short time frame.”
The LIAA is also collecting information regarding individual school spectator policies and live streaming options.
Mid Valley agreed to a five-year contract with the National Federation of High School Sports Association to broadcast all of its Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association events that can be viewed with a subscription, and all school activities for free at www.nfhsnetwork.com.
“This provides, in the COVID environment, the ability to have family and friends watch the games,” Nowakowski said. “It’s a great service post-COVID also to allow family and friends from out of the area, who can’t normally attend games to watch. It’s a partnership that is first-rate and is used across the country. It’s also an opportunity for advertising, sponsors and subscriptions revenue opportunities for the district.”
Delaware Valley also uses the NFHS program and did so starting in the fall.
“It has worked tremendously,” Delaware Valley athletic director Chris Ross said. “The parents love it, the grandparents love it. We are also able to give extended family who wanted to see their nephew, niece, cousins, grandsons or granddaughters the ability to see the games. It is really great technology.”
Joby Fawcett has covered high school sports — including football, girls and boys volleyball, girls and boys tennis, girls and boys swimming, boys basketball, girls and boys track and field, and girls and boys lacrosse — for 22 years. The High School Sports Blog offers deeper insights plus statistical and historical information for fans and features photos, videos and graphics along with Top 5 polls for tennis and volleyball. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5367; @sportsTT