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2020-2021 Modified High School Sports Season

Cyclist finds the rail trail and Harry Rich State Forest ideal for exercising. Photo by Robert Mingolelli.


Lone biker on a country road. Photo by Robert Mingolelli.


by Robert Mingolelli
The MIAA high school fall sports season will begin on Sept. 18, 2020. In order to shorten traveling time between schools, the Midland-Wachusett League as we know it has been changed. “Our “POD” is made up of Groton-Dunstable, Littleton, Ayer-Shirley, Tyngsborough and North Middlesex. The league was redistributed to pods based on location,” said G-D Athletic Director Matt Ricard.
     “As a league and district it has not been determined how or if we will have Fall 2 practices. If it is allowed they will be limited and overseen by the school,” added Ricard.
     MIAA Board of Directors approved the Athletic calendar and Groton-Dunstable is following the guidelines:
• Fall 1-Sept 18: boys golf, X-C running, field hockey, soccer. For the fall season, football practice,* cheer practice,* unified basketball practice. *
• Winter: Winter gymnastics, boys/girls indoor track, ski, winter swimming/diving, cheer, hockey, basketball, wrestling.
• Floating season: TBA by MIAA - Sports unable to play in earlier seasons may engage in Level 3 play, (competition) if permitted by updated EEA guidelines (Energy and Environmental Affairs).
     Schools that offered only remote learning in early fall may use this season for play that was missed during their remote schedule. Football practice, cheer practice, unified basketball practice using EEA modifications.
• Spring: TBA by MIAA - Girls golf, basketball, softball, baseball, tennis, girls/boys lacrosse, track and field, and rugby. Many schools are using gymnasiums as classrooms; as a result, girls volleyball is scheduled to start February 22. Students can play all four seasons.
• There will be no MIAA Tournaments.
     For safety reasons, there will be limits on the number of fans allowed, and the numbers of ath-letes allowed to compete.
* will be practice only using EEA (Energy and Environmental Affairs) modifications.
General Information regarding Sport Specific Modifications
As of 8/28: The following are Sport specific modifications from MIAA regarding League and District decisions offerings, scheduling and protocols. (Subject to change)
Golf Specific Modifications
-There are plenty of modifications for golf, but most of them are pretty basic. Golf is “lower risk” sport.
-Players should not be using the Clubhouse, except for use of the restrooms, one by one.
-There will be no handshakes, fist, or elbow bumps among players.
-All players must use their own equipment and golf balls.
-Players should not handle or touch other players’ golf balls or equipment.
-All safety protocols put in place by the golf course must be followed.
-The clubhouse is off limits except for the restroom, which is restricted to one person at a time.
- Single tee starts should be staggered at a minimum of 10 minutes between groups.
-Face coverings must be worn and social distance practiced at all times, although masks can be removed during the match as long as players are at least 6 feet apart.
-Prior to each match, the visiting coach should send a list of participants to the home coach, who in turn will send a copy of the local rules to visiting coach to eliminate the need for handouts on match day.
Soccer Specific Modifications
-All games played in 4 equal quarters.
-2 minute break between each quarter.
-10 minute halftime
-Players, coaches, refs must wear masks during play.
-No slide tackling, intentionally heading the ball.
-No shoulder to shoulder contact.
-No time outs allowed.
Field Hockey Specific Modifications
-Number of players on field - 7v7 (must have goalie)
-No penalty corners: fouls in circle would be 25 yd. hits •
-Free Hits: all players must be 5 yards away
-No bully’s (set play): it will be alternating possession
Modifications game management:
     -Four balls must be placed behind each goal and on opposite sideline on cones (no ball girls/ boys)
Modifications specific to player protection:
     -The requirements for mouth guards and goggles remain in place.
Modifications specific to Officials:
     - Pre-Game: No stick inspection 
     - coach is responsible to verify that all participants have legal equipment (stick, goggles, mask)
     -Officials shall use alternative whistles such as electronic whis- tles; air horns are permissible.
     -Substitutions will take place at mid-field (no contact between players).
Cross Country Specific Modifications
-Runners should practice in pods of 5-10.
-For the time being, only dual meets are allowed.
-If “practical and/or possible,” each league will identify one course that has wider spacing and can be used multiple days to host all league dual meets. That scenario is also ideal because visiting teams are no longer allowed to “walk” the course before a race, so it would breed familiarity.
-Staggered starts in smaller groups are required, possibly with waves of eight to 10 runners. Said runners should be spaced 6 feet apart. Those are two of nine requirements related to the starting area alone.
-Runners should maintain social distancing during the race and not cluster — i.e. run in a pack and finish lines should be a minimum of 28 feet, with the left side designated for one team and the right for the other.
-Runners can remove face coverings during the race when socially distanced, but should be prepared to use them after crossing the finish line. 
     Think social distancing!
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