Lawrence High School’s athletics department is one of many statewide that have adapted to a new reality for their outdoor fall sports to occur this fall season.
Program operations are different with official practices having begun for cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, and girls tennis on Sept. 14.
“First off, we have staggered practice times to limit the number of athletes on campus. All athletes must complete a daily COVID-19 questionnaire, turn it into their coach and have their temperature taken before they can practice,” Athletic Director Gregg Zenerovitz said. “We are not using the school building at all, no locker rooms, training room, weight room, etc.”
In addition to staggered practices and not utilizing the school building, the Cardinals athletic trainer has set up an outdoor training room for athletes that need treatment.
“Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face masks and hand sanitizer can be found at each of our practice locations. So far things have been going well,” Zenerovitz said. “Football started on Sept. 11, while boys and girls soccer, field hockey, girls tennis, cheerleading and boys and girls cross country all started on Sept. 14. I have to say that both the athletes and coaches are very excited to have the opportunity to be out there this fall.”
According to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), the official start of girls tennis for the regular season begins on Sept. 28, with cross country, field hockey, and soccer seasons starting on Oct. 1, and football officially kicking off on Oct. 2.
Some athletes have made the decision not to participate in outdoor sports this fall at Lawrence.
“So yes, some of our programs numbers are not as high as they normally would be,” Zenerovitz said.
Gymnastics and girls volleyball won’t occur until 2021, when official practice starts on Feb. 16 and regular competition returns on March 3. The NJSIAA moved indoor fall sports to 2021 because of health concerns and limitations on indoor capacity.
In preparation for the fall season Lawrence conducted several town hall meetings with student-athletes and parents.
“The message was very clear that we are all in this together this fall. We all need to be mindful to keep our social distance and mask up while attending athletic events this fall,” Zenerovitz added. “We also all need to be flexible this fall.”
Scheduled changes have already occurred for the Cardinals mainly due to busing issues.
“Obviously, there are things that are out of our control, but it is important to control what we can control so we can have a safe and successful fall sports season,” he said.
The possibility of fall outdoor sports being shut down this fall if a rising trend of COVID-19 occurs statewide is in the back of the mind for Zenerovitz.
“Again, let’s control what we can control, be smart with our decisions on campus and off, wash our hands, keep our distance and mask up. We are all in this together, so we all need to be smart with our decisions,” he said. “We are fortunate to have a great group of fall coaches at LHS, and we are all committed to having a safe fall season for our athletes.”