by Ken Brown
NORTHEAST KINGDOM – Governor Scott gave the green light for Vermont high schools to have the option to begin noncontact basketball conditioning and skill drills inside gymnasiums throughout the state on December 28. With Hazen Union, Craftsbury Academy, and Twinfield exercising that option, the hope was to start the season this week, but those plans have once again been put on hold.
Athletic directors, coaches, players, and parents around the state will be holding their breath this week as they wait for a decision from the Governor on whether or not they can begin full contact practicing in earnest. Once that decision is made, team’s must log seven days of practices before being deemed ready to begin their season.
With the season already drastically pushed back due rising cases of COVID-19 throughout the winter, it will be a mad scramble for athletic directors to recoup games that were postponed. Once the season does tip-off, it is a statewide mandate that there must be two days in between every game played, so the reality of an abbreviated high school basketball season with multiple cancellations is real. Games will be played without fans and players, coaches, refs, and personnel will be required to wear masks at all times. If a favorable announcement by the Governor is made this week, then theoretically some teams could start their season by next weekend, but the general consensus is that it will be later than that.
“If I had to guess, we probably won’t start our seasons around here until late January or the beginning of February,” said Hazen Union Athletic Director John Sperry. “Once the season starts, we hope to have the varsity girls play on Mondays and Thursdays and the boys on Tuesdays and Fridays. As postponements happen, this should give us a little wiggle room to have the opportunity to make up a game on the weekend, while still maintaining two days in between games. Everyone is going have a challenge managing their schedules and I can envision a lot of calls being made to other schools late in the season to try to add a game here and there. I think we’ll be lucky to get a ten or eleven game season in at this point,”
Craftsbury Academy (CA) will have some new faces on the sidelines this winter when the season eventually tips off. Tyler Gillespie replaces Evans Bouchard as the varsity boys’ head coach after two seasons. Gillespie will look to inject a spark into a program that has enjoyed just two wins in the last two seasons. Gabriela Silva is the new athletic director at CA and will also coach the varsity girls’ squad. Silva hopes to be able to field a varsity girls basketball team at CA for first time since the Lady Chargers made it to the division IV semifinals at the Barre Auditorium in 2017.