Gov. Tom Wolf released his guidelines earlier last week on how and when sports across the commonwealth can return.
Tunkhannock Area, Elk Lake and Lackawanna Trail all touch into Wyoming County, which entered the green phase of the governor’s reopening plan last Friday.
Though Elk Lake’s building is in Susquehanna County, and therefore is still in the limited yellow phase, it has a number of students that reside in Wyoming County.
“Pennsylvania has some of the best athletes and teams in the country and they can now begin to safely return to organized sports,” said Gov. Wolf in an explanation on the governor’s webpage. “This guidance balances keeping student athletes safe from COVID-19 while allowing them to participate in an important part of their lives.”
“This is another step toward reopening our state and getting things back on track. As students and teammates get ready to train and compete, it’s important that they follow precautions to protect each other and their community from the risk of COVID-19,” he conitnued.
The preliminary guidance is a starting point for summer sports teams and the Wolf Administration will continue to work with stakeholders. The guidance for fall, winter and spring sports seasons may be updated.
“(Principal) Mr. Warnero and I are putting together a committee to draw up guidelines for our coaches and student athletes to follow so hopefully we can start to organize our teams,” said the Warrior’s athletic director, Tony Blaisure. “I feel it will be a slow go to get athletes (on board with this) as they will be gungho to get going.”
Trail football coach Steve Jervis added, “It is a start, we are very excited to at least get the green light to start some remnants of workouts and conditioning. Though we will have to be very careful to follow the guidelines, at least we can get our kids thinking about football once again.”
Jervis said the Lion’s football team started a google classroom in order to communicate with players when the pandemic began, so that helped to fill the void of not being able to meet in person as a team.
“We do a lot of speed and agility training in June, so we are hoping that our players are keeping up on their own. We will pick up with those kinds of workouts just to make sure our kids are ready to go physically,” he added.
Ryan Kipar, the boys and girls golf coach at Elk Lake, has the benefit of coaching a non contact sport, one that the athletes have been able to continue throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
He said, “I was relieved when I saw the governor’s (plan) allowing practices to start with guidelines. Out of all of the sports, I think we were the least impacted because it is pretty easy to social distance and the golf courses were open for a period of time. I know some of the kids have been golfing as soon as the courses opened.”
“We will do what we can with the time we are given. This is an unprecedented time, but we will make the best of it,” said Tunkhannock field hockey coach Shelby Madden. “We definitely will be a little behind this year depending on start dates, but will work together as a team to overcome the obstacles we face. Coach Robinson and I plan to start as soon as we are able to according to our schools approved start dates.”
Jervis continued, “At this point, the overall safety of the players and their families will be our main concern. We will monitor them very closely. As far as green counties or yellow counties, we are all kind of in the same boat. I am appreciative that we have a well developed program with many of our systems already in place.”
“We must teach our coaches and athletes and parents about this situation. Everyone must buy into the way we have to go about it. Will the green counties have an advantage? Maybe. We must do social distancing in everything and everyone we want to coach,” explained Blaisure. “That is where it is going to be tough for some. It is still early but we need a vaccine soon to get back to school and athletics. Elk Lake is still coming up with a plan for both.”
“Our plan is to have a ‘return to sports’ plan approved by the school board and our first workout is scheduled for Monday, July 6,” said Jervis.
For more information on Gov. Wolf’s guidelines, go to www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-provides-guidance-to-resume-high-school-and-other-summer-sports/