The Pottstown School Board elected to cancel all athletic activities this fall and through Jan. 1, 2021 in a Zoom meeting Thursday night.
The 8-0 vote approving the suspension of Trojan athletics came after the board last week indicated its intent to discontinue sports but sought a delay for administration to put together an alternate activities plan for students.
Pottstown joined fellow Pioneer Athletic Conference member Norristown among schools opting out of fall sports. Earlier Thursday, the PAC announced plans to delay the start of preseason in all sports until Sept. 7.
The rapidly changing day also saw Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pa. Department of Health and Department of Education jointly recommend the suspension of scholastic and recreational athletics until Jan. 1. In reply, the PIAA, the state governing body for interscholastic athletics, expressed disappointment at the administration’s recommendation and was to reconvene Friday to discuss the future of school sports this fall.
Having already approved an all-virtual return to school for the first semester, the school board members were in agreement over the possible mixed messages over allowing sports with no in-person schooling.
“At the end of the day, I believe there is nothing that has changed my sentiment from last week, that if it’s not safe for our students to be in class, it surely isn’t safe enough for them to pile up on top of one another or run next to one another, sweating, etc.,” said Board member John Armato, Pottstown’s Director of Community Relations, former athletic director and great advocate of student-athletes.
Pottstown had already discontinued voluntary workouts at the start of week in anticipation of the official vote Thursday.
The Jan. 1, 2021 date would also affect the start of the winter sports season but the board and administration expected to revisit the topic at a date sooner to that time.
Pottstown High School Principal Danielle McCoy shared an activities plan with the board to engage students despite the ceasing of athletic competition and practices.
“Our students have been without those mentors, all very suddenly starting March 13, and we want to bring them back in our fold because we think it’s very important to their growth, academically, socially and emotionally,” McCoy said.
New Co-Curricular Director Me’Lisa Morgan set up an informational Google Classroom for athletes and plans to establish virtual workout challenges.
The plan outlined coaches holding in-person interactions that must be outside, adhere to 6-feet social distancing requirements, be 10 or fewer people and approved by administration. The plan stated the meetings as being only for conditioning and connections with ‘no equipment or balls.”
With the cancellation of fall sports, coaching positions will not be paid. Instead, the district will hire Workout Coaches who would provide the guidance for the health plan to interested student-athletes.
“This is all a grand experiment. We don’t know how any of this will go,” said Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez. “We don’t know if we’ll have too many coaches apply, if we have too many kids want to be involved. Maybe everybody will want to be involved and that to me would be a great problem to have.
“I know that one of the concerns may be that if I don’t get to knock Pottsgrove in the teeth then I’m not interested, I can run on my own. But to anybody listening, we want you to be involved.”