Gov. Tom Wolf gave hope to fans of high school sports Wednesday (Sep. 2) when he lifted his ban on spectators at youth sporting event.

However, the new guidance does not change the limit on the gathering sizes.

Once the numbers of participants is determined, the remaining tally then can be used to allow spectators in to the event. It’s expected that each school district will determine where to draw the line.

“The removal of the spectator prohibition helps, yes,” Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director Robert Lombardi said. “But we still have a lot of people who are upset about the 25 limit for girls volleyball and girls water polo. We can’t have girls waiting outside in a hallway who are substitutes for the game. It just doesn’t make sense. We are hoping for some leeway.”

Lombardi said he provided a detailed outline to the governor’s office of how restrictive the 25 number is to conducting a girls volleyball match.

Each team has six players on the court. There are at least two coaches, two officials, two line judges, a scorekeeper and a scoreboard operator. That brings the number inside the gymnasium for a match to at least 20.

Conducting practices with the gathering limit of 25 is a task for coaches as they prepare for competition.

“The change doesn’t help us one bit and the limit is hindering us,” Blue Ridge girls volleyball coach Lori Zick said. “We are limiting our practice time together. Right now, if I had a match, we are maybe going to dress eight kids a game and I have nine seniors.

Zick said that despite the challenges, practices are going well and the players are thankful for the opportunity to compete.

“They are rolling with the punches, better than I am, actually,” Zick said. “I think they are just happy to be back together and doing something they love and they are willing to do anything no matter what it takes.”

Lackawanna League volleyball matches are scheduled to begin Sept. 15.

With the outdoor limit at 250, it provides options for host schools. Still, there will be an adjustment.

“The number 250 is not a whole lot, but we need to work with it the best we can,” Lombardi said. “On gameday, if we need to keep squad sizes down, maybe that’s what we need to do. The way we have done business in the past has changed. Our goal now is to do our best to get families in to see their kids play.”

Meanwhile, a bill moving through Harrisburg could give fans more freedom to attend games. On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives passed House Bill 2787, which puts the decision to allow fans at high school sporting events and how many can attend into the hands of individual school districts.

The vote passed, 155-47, and moves on to the Senate next week.

The governor still recommends youth sports not be played until at least Jan. 1, 2021. The PIAA Board of Directors voted, 25-5, in August to move forward with the fall sports season while leaving the decision up to each individual school district.

High school golf and tennis have started their seasons in the Lackawanna League. Cross country and girls soccer open Sept. 11 while boys soccer starts Sept. 14. The Lackawanna Football Conference season begins Oct. 2.

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9125; @sportsTT on Twitter

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