Hock Moves Volleyball, Rejects Out-Of-Season Coaching

Oliver Ames volleyball Jordan Bennett
Oliver Ames junior Jordan Bennett tips a ball over a double block in the fourth set of the match against Barnstable in the 2019 D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
The Hockomock League officially announced the move of girls volleyball to the Fall 2 season in a statement released on Saturday afternoon. The announcement follows Thursday’s meeting with league athletic directors and principals.

Volleyball joins football, competitive cheerleading, and unified basketball in the Fall 2 season, which is slated to start on February 22. Boys and girls soccer, field hockey, golf, and cross country are scheduled to start on September 18 at the earliest, with some schools pushing the start date until September 21 due to Rosh Hashanah. The MIAA announced its guidelines and modification for those sports on Friday, which can be found at here.

“The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums,” the statement said. At least five Hockomock schools – Canton, Franklin, King Philip, Mansfield, and Taunton – are set to start the school year fully remote.

The statement included a total of five key bullet points, including a vote against out-of-season coaching. The MIAA Board of Directors voted on August 19 to “allow out of season coaching from September 18th, 2020 through July 3rd, 2021, as approved by the member school principal.” The Hock voted unanimously to “continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1. Rule 40, titled “Out-of-Season Coach-Athlete Contact Limitations” partially reads that “between seasons a coach may conduct a meeting(s) with team candidates only to elect captains, collect equipment, issue equipment, to provide for physical examinations, to conduct legitimate fund-raising events, or to offer wellness workshops or activities.” You can view the entire MIAA Handbook at here.

The statement also notes this includes the fall sports (football, volleyball, competitive cheer, unified basketball) that were moved to the wedge season, noting “There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.” Multiple sources have indicated that most leagues in the region will be making the same decisions regarding out of season coaching.

The Hockomock League also announced a new spectator policy in accordance with the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. There will be a limit of 50 spectators while face covers and six feet social distancing are required. Only spectators associated with the host school will be allowed into the facility and the league says spectators are “strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive.”

Below is the complete statement from the Hockomock League:

 

Fall 2020 Sports are now moving forward to implementation. Several Hockomock League School Committees approved this week a return to the slate of Fall I sports put forth by MIAA. The MIAA Sports Committees completed their task of providing modifications to their sports to abide under the restrictive DESE and EEA guidelines issued on August 13. The MIAA Board of Directors approved and published these modifications on August 28.

The Hockomock Principals, following the recommendations of their respective Athletic Directors, made some important decisions regarding the sports offerings and procedures for the upcoming season. Their goal, as always, is to keep the League united and consistent in its competitive offerings. Here are the motions as approved by the Principals:

1. Start Date – The MIAA start date for Fall athletics is Friday, September 18th. This is the first day of the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The League Principals voted to leave the start date up to the individual school. Therefore, some schools will begin practices on September 18 and others on Monday, September 21.

2. Sport Offerings – Guidelines from DESE/EEA/MIAA allowed schools to play Golf, Field Hockey, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Soccer and Volleyball. As other conferences have done, including Central MA, all of District 3, and the Tri-Valley League, the Hock Schools agreed it would be best to move Volleyball to the new Fall 2 “wedge season” which will start on February 22. The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums.

3. Out-of-Season Coaching – The MIAA approved Out-of-Season Coaching from September 18th to July 3rd. This in fact would allow any and all athletic programs to run practices all year. In order to minimize the amount of student extracurricular activity and limit student cohort interactions, the Principals voted for the League to continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1.

4. Football, Volleyball, Unified Basketball and Competitive Cheer Practice – These sports have been moved to officially practice and compete in the Fall 2 season that begins on February 22. In similar fashion to the motion above on out-of-season-coaching, the Principals approved the motion to govern these four sports under the MIAA Handbook guidelines. There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.

5. Spectators
In an effort to organize the safest athletics experience possible for our student-athletes, the Hockomock League will be following the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In the most recent guidance, issued on August 13th, the following details are specific to spectators regarding “Outdoor Capacity Limits”:

No more than 50 people excluding players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers in the aggregate in, on, or surrounding any surface / playing area or start/finish lines at any one time, provided that there is adequate space for all players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers and spectators to maintain at least six feet of social distancing.

Spectators must wear facial coverings and maintain six feet of social distance at all times.

In order to enforce this STATE-MANDATED restricted attendance, the Hockomock League will only be allowing spectators associated with the host school into their facility. All spectators are strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive. The method by which each host school chooses to admit, or not admit, fans will be decided at the individual District level.

Any adjustments which we are pursuing are being made in order to continue to provide a healthy and safe athletic environment for our student-athletes. We are asking our families and student bodies to respect these Board of Health limitations to spectators at sporting events.

We are grateful for the opportunity for our Fall athletes to return to the playing field. While the seasons are date-modified, the sectional and state tournaments cancelled, and the sports are modified for health and safety, the student athletes will gain competitive experience and learn life lessons in these challenging and difficult times. Our students will greatly benefit and t heir social and emotional health will prosper.

Sincerely,
The Hockomock League ADs

Mark Houle, Attleboro
Danny Erickson, Canton
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Tom Angelo, Franklin
Gary Brown, King Philip
Mike Redding, Mansfield
Peter Boucher, Milford
Kurt Kummer, North Attleboro
Bill Matthews, Oliver Ames
Nick Schlierf, Sharon
Ryan Donahue, Stoughton
Mark Ottavianelli, Taunton

Ryan Lanigan
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