Looking back one year ago on high school sports and comparing them to the ones we have today is a night and day difference. No fans in the stands, Masks on at all times, delayed starts to seasons. The whole nine yards.
On January 5th, a statement was released by the GBL (Greater Boston League) concerning the Winter season, the new Fall 2 season and Spring season. The GBL combines a number of cities in the Greater Boston area which includes Malden, Medford, Everett, Revere, Somerville, Chelsea, Lynn Classical and Lynn English. Each city is represented by their high school’s Athletic Director/Head of Athletics. For Malden that would be Athletic Director, Charlie Conefrey.
The statement disclosed that all athletic competitions besides girl’s hockey and gymnastics would be delayed until March 1st, after reports showed high numbers of COVID-19 cases in urban areas. Conditionings, tryouts and practices would begin as early as February 1st if COVID-19 case numbers were not high. As time went on, the number of COVID-19 cases slowly dropped meaning practices and tryouts could start for sports part of the Winter sports season.
When asked about his opinion on the decision made by the GBL to have athletics starting again, Conefrey said “in the Fall [they] voted to participate in the Fall II season because that was best for [the students].” He also mentioned that as the winter sports season approaches, “[they] are preparing to adjust once more, to meet the needs of [their] students.” Since the decision to play again has been “worked on weekly since last June to finally arrive at the plan you see below,'' Conefrey is a firm believer in the GBL's plans.
According to Conefrey, the Greater Boston League started Winter Sports on March 1st with “interscholastic play [beginning] on March 6th.” The 2021 GBL Athletic Season Calendar that was provided by him can be found below:
Conefrey stated that with the extensive rules and regulations being enforced, it gives him “full trust in the MIAA’s ability and expert knowledge.” He expressed that “[he feels] strongly that the procedures and protocols [they] have in place have will continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for all” adding that “students have been extremely receptive to the ‘new normal’ in regards to sport modifications” and “the majority of [Malden High’s] student athletes are willing to do whatever it takes to get back on the field, court and/or playing arena.”
Conefrey explained that “the [GBL] led by [himself] and Principal [Chris] Mastrangelo have worked diligently with [the] league member schools to provide a condensed three season calendar (six weeks each) starting March 1st.” He stated that “depending on the sport, each team will play a league schedule consisting of six to ten games/matches with a league championship at the end of each season.”
Conefrey also acknowledged that many have questioned whether or not a “full season will be played,” and clarified that the answer to that question “greatly depends on how well student athletes and coaches adhere to the protocols [that are put] in place in regards to COVID-19.”
Richard Newton, the Athletic Director for Lynn English, thinks that “it was a big decision to allow high school sports since [Lynn was] one of the cities who were against playing high school sports in the beginning.” However, he is “very glad that [they have] finally been [able] to play after so long.” Talking about the decision made, Newton said “[their] basketball team [has not] played since last year when [they] were going to play in the state championship game. [They] call [themselves] state champs because [they believe that they] would have crushed the other team so [they are] happy to suit up again with this news.”
Lynn is a great example of a city that was hammered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Newton had gone back to Lynn English for the first time this school year, he witnessed “the entire front of the school being a testing site with a big line of cars wrapping around the building.” He added that they even had to have “two police cruisers to make sure nobody was cutting line” In that moment, Newton did not think “[Lynn was] getting a season.” Getting to where Lynn is now and being able to participate in high school sports shows just how effective the health and safety protocols that we are given can be.
It is clear that making some of these were difficult decisions to make but Newton stresses that in the end “you [have to] do what you [have] to do in order to play,” which is what most student athletes are thinking at this time.
For students who wish to sign up for Fall II and/or Spring sports, use the following resources below. The registration opens on April 1st, 2021.
For the Final Forms application, click here.
For further instructions on how to sign up, click here.