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NJSIAA still holding out hope for a spring sports season

NJSIAA still holding out hope for a spring sports season
Middletown High School North's softball team celebrates a NJSIAA Group 3 Championship during the 5-0 home victory over Chatham High School, Morris County, that was held at Kean University on June 3.

The start of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association high school spring sports season was scheduled to begin on March 25 with both boys and girls lacrosse action starting things off.

Baseball, softball, boys tennis, boys volleyball and boys and girls track and field would have began their respective regular season schedules on April 1.

That has all been put on hold with all spring sports statewide being stopped for now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NJSIAA still believes that there is a chance for a spring sports season.

“NJSIAA staff is focused on participation opportunities that will be available to its student-athletes as soon as schools reopen,” NJSIAA members said in a statement. “All student-athletes will need an immediate sense of normalcy and providing even a semblance of a spring season will be essential to their physical and emotional health. It also will benefit the entire school community.”

According to the statement, all NJSIAA staff are working remotely, outside the physical office. All directors can be contacted directly, either via email or their cell phone.

All key meetings, such as those of the Executive Committee and its sub-committees, are being held as scheduled via the Cisco WebEx platform. Remote access to all meetings and other sessions necessary to continue the association’s business will continue, while non-essential meetings have been postponed until further notice.

During the governor’s statewide shutdown of all schools, no NJSIAA member school, school district or coach may conduct practices, scrimmages or games, as this is a mandatory period of no in-person contact between coaches and their student-athletes. This includes any event organized by a parent, captain or other student-athlete.

These restrictions relate to all sports, not just spring sports.

Coaches may interact virtually with their student-athletes, including providing workouts or training materials. However, such virtual contact – as well as any activity that may result from it – must strictly conform to all directives in effect related to the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing guidelines, according to the statement. In addition, any virtual contact and resultant activities must be entirely in keeping with all NJSIAA in- and off-season protocols.

While the return-to-school date will play a significant role in determining the length of the regular season, NJSIAA staff will also discuss options with officers of each league and conference. Important factors in determining the potential length of the regular season will be feedback from these officers related to the status of various county or conference tournaments, as well as plans for abridged divisional and/or inter-conference schedules, according to the statement.

As soon as a return-to-school date is made official, NJSIAA staff will work directly with key tournament staff for each sport to structure championship tournaments, according to the statement.

Finally, the NJSIAA Scholar Athlete Luncheon, originally scheduled for May 17, has been cancelled. NJSIAA is continuing to solicit nominations from each member school and will send each honoree a certificate and gift. Monetary scholarships, however, will not be awarded this year.

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports