Westfield athletic director says ‘the game is still the game’
WESTFIELD – Westfield Athletic Supervisor Ryan Dunphy gave an update to the School Committee on Sept. 8 regarding Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) modifications to the sport season.
Dunphy said the general guidelines are the same for all sports, and there will be a designated person to answer COVID-19 questions or concerns. He said the second part of the modifications released on Aug. 28 are more sports specific, regarding specific rules and post game behavior, such as handshakes.
Dunphy said an informational packet will go out to all families by the start of the season. Registration is open; all coaches have been hired for the fall, and he is having individual meetings with the coaches. “We are getting well versed with rules and modifications and going into online COVID training,” he said.
Practices are scheduled to start Sept. 18. Game schedules are still undetermined, as Westfield is waiting for other districts to comply. Dunphy said he anticipates 8 to 12 events or games.
Dunphy said as for spectators, the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference (PVIAC) is likely to vote on no spectators for indoor sports, including volleyball or gymnastics, so Westfield is working on livestream options. Outdoor sports will allow spectators with limitations, which haven’t been set yet. MIAA guidelines allow 50 spectators, but he said he is not sure what PVIAC will do.
Committee member Cindy Sullivan asked how kids are going to play in November when it gets dark at 4 p.m. and they’re not under the lights.
Dunphy said there won’t be any tournament play, which shortens the season. “It will be tricky the first couple of weeks in November,” he said, adding they may shorten warmups and pre-game activities.
Cindy Sullivan said she thought one parent could go to indoor sport matches. “It will really stink if senior parents can’t see their kids for the last time,” she said.
Vice chair Timothy O’Connor asked Dunphy if he or the coaches were concerned about any of the modifications.
Dunphy said they are putting pre-workout and pre-contest screening instructions on the family registration pages. He said families are responsible, if students show any symptoms, they are not to go to that event. “Each sport has some concerns,” he said, such as cohort practice schedules, where everyone has to stick with their group. “We’ve been working through those things. No coach has said they are unsurmountable.”
Committee member Bo Sullivan asked if everyone in the conference is on the same page.
Dunphy said PVIAC has 60 schools, so it’s nearly impossible for everyone to be on the same page. “If people honestly look at the modifications, the game is still the game,” he said, adding that he recently saw a recorded 60-minute soccer game with modifications that looked like soccer. “When you have changes and something new, people are always going to be apprehensive,” he added.