BILLERICA, Mass. — Beginning on Monday, Fall II sports in Massachusetts are officially eligible to begin practicing. The following sports are permitted to play starting Feb. 22, 2021:
- Cross Country
- Field Hockey
- Indoor Track and Field
- Swimming and Diving
- Unified Basketball
The delayed start comes after the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association [MIAA] voted last month to allow student-athletes to play truncated seasons with new safety modifications in place.
At Billerica High School, senior captains on the football team said Sunday night that they were anxious to get going.
“For me, personally, I’m pretty excited for tomorrow,” said captain Joe Dufour. “I’ve personally played in plenty of games where there’s snow and rain and all that, so we’re just looking forward to getting games in. We’ll play in any weather condition; it doesn’t matter this year.”
“Football has kind of been my whole life since I was younger,” said captain Brian Hamilton.
While football in February was not ideal, the seniors said they were grateful for one last chance to play.
“I’m going to try my hardest and I’m going to play my hardest, and I’m expecting that from everyone else on the team,” explained captain Jakob Oliver.
According to head football coach Duane Sigsbury, the first day of practice for the team will be held inside while the snow is cleared from the turf. Before every practice, players will have temperature checks and have to scan a QR code prompting them to fill out a digital health form.
“We’re going to practice hard, we’re going to practice physical, but we’re going to practice smart,” Sigsbury told Boston 25 News Sunday night. “We’re going to keep everybody up, we’re not going to take anybody to the ground in practice.”
Billerica’s athletic director, John Magliozzi, said the school is also enforcing a “Return to Play” protocol, which forces all athletes who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 to condition with a trainer who will monitor their cardiovascular health.
“The student will have to go through physical exercises with our athletic trainer over a seven-day time period, and it’s a lot of heart monitoring in order to figure out if they are cardiovascular[ly] ready to return to play,” he explained.
Magliozzi added that all athletic directors in the state are working to be flexible during the Fall II rollout, and said a lot will depend upon how conditioned players are at the start of the season.
“Right now it’s about finding out what’s their baseline in terms of physical conditioning, and how do we move forward based on their baseline physical condition to make sure they’re prepared for their first game of the season,” Magliozzi said.
At Billerica High School, swim, cheer and track are also set to begin their seasons on Monday.
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