As the online spring sports season comes to an end and MCPS prepares for the start of in-person fall sports at the end of February, many people are wondering if this and other in-person sports seasons will really come to fruition.
Athletic director Jared Fribush has answers. While academic instruction may still be held virtually through February, MCPS now feels like the COVID-19 metrics are favorable enough to run outdoor, socially distanced sports practices and events. In its press release, MCPS outlined a few potential changes to what it will provide for winter sports, including a possibility of some in-person engagement later in the school year.
MCPS states, “Continues to plan for the fall sports season and will provide updates regarding interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities in the coming weeks.” As of today, they are still planning on starting in-person fall sports Feb. 13.
Mr. Fribush remarks that being an athletic director during a pandemic has been extraordinarily logistically challenging, but reassures the community he and other ADs are putting forth their best efforts to make the fall season start and run as normally as possible.
“I think this has been a challenge for everyone, in all aspects of life. I can tell you that as athletic directors, we continue to plan for the most current guidelines, and also for anticipated changes,” Mr. Fribush says. “That way, whenever we are cleared to return, we will be ready to start.”
As of right now, the fall sports season is currently scheduled to run through April 17 based on the health metrics (which will continue to be assessed) followed by spring sports from April 17 through June 19. In an effort to keep everything as “normal” as possible, Mr. Fribush mentions some concerns he has for the future in-person seasons.
“Our hope is that we return to normalcy in all aspects of life, including high school sports. I am sure there will be some health policies that continue to carry over whenever we return, such as forgoing the handshake line,” says Mr. Fribush. He also mentions his concerns relating to finding officials for games. “I am also concerned that our officials’ organizations may struggle to find enough officials when we return. The average age of our officials was relatively high, and this may cause a large turnover in the organizations.”
In-person sports are a staple in the school community and many people look forward to sports seasons athletic directors included. Mr. Fribush says, “I miss the excitement that the students have during the fall season. I really feel for the student-athletes who are missing out on the experience of participating, being with their teammates, competing, and working out.”
He adds, “I also miss the experience of the rest of the community – the classmates who attend the games to support, the parents getting to cheer on their students. Personally, I love watching our students compete and participate in sports they enjoy.”
Despite not being in the building, Mr. Fribush still has plans to make students’ senior seasons feel as normal as possible and make sure that they receive the recognition they deserve. “My first hope is that we will be able to have in-person sports, which would allow for traditional senior nights. However, it is also possible that with a return to in-person sports, we may not even allow for spectators, which would certainly detract from the senior night experience. I would imagine that even if we are back in person for sports, we would supplement the senior nights with online celebrations.” He also noted that coaches have been making sure to assist seniors so they don’t miss out on athletic opportunities for college given that we are not playing in person. “Our coaches typically assist any students with the recruiting process. In addition to the online video platforms we utilize, we also have resources on our website [to aid in the recruiting process].”
Our athletic director has been putting forth his best efforts to ensure that our in-person season is as normal but as safe as it can be, preparing to make adjustments with new guidance from MCPS.