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Addition of fall II season provides athletic opportunities amid COVID-19 pandemic

Girls’ volleyball hosts tryouts for fall II season in the Reggie Gymnasium on Tuesday, Feb. 23 (Photo by Ethan Shin)

North athletes began tryouts Monday, Feb. 22 as the fall II high school sports season commenced. According to the MIAA Director of Communications Tara Bennett “Having the opportunity to participate in athletics during the pandemic has been greeted with support and excitement. The kids just want to play, participate and be with their friends.”

Fall II, which runs from Feb. 22 until Apr. 25, features many of the sports that were postponed from the fall and winter seasons due to COVID-19. The sports are cheerleading, football, indoor track, dance, girls’ volleyball, and unified basketball. 

”Student-athletes learn a new skill set by participating in different sports,” said Athletic Director Thomas Giusti, “As an athletic department, we want to provide as many opportunities to play for a great number of students.”

Many of the protocols and schedule changes, put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, from the fall and winter seasons have been carried over into the fall II season. Protocols such as closing locker rooms and limiting the number of personnel on the sidelines during games have remained in place. Additionally, North will once again only play opponents within the Bay State Conference for contact tracing purposes, and there will be no postseason.

According to assistant special education administrator Nick Capodilupo, the football coach, “Our goal will be to provide a means to help support the needs of our student-athletes in a way that is physically safe, emotionally supportive, and enriches their high school experience.” He said, “There are safety precautions that will impact practice times, participants, and the way in which we approach our daily activities.”

Math teacher Shawn Wallace, the coach of Boys track and field added, “I think a lot of kids are looking forward to competing again. Safety is number one, being able to compete in our sport is number two.”

The fall II season begins with snow still on the ground, which is an impediment to outdoor sports, especially football. The school has been creative to work around this issue, including having football tryouts in the gym at F.A. Day Middle School. However, if the snow persists and begins to interfere with gameplay, according to Giusti, “We didn’t overschedule so if we can’t start at a designated time, we have extra time to move those games.” 

The addition of a fourth season also allows students an opportunity to try new sports. For example, if an athlete plays soccer in the fall they usually wouldn’t be able to play football, but with football now moved to Fall II, they can. Giusti said,  “We have seen kids try something new, developing new friendships. Those are all pluses out of a negative situation.”

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