The Upper Perkiomen School Board voted Thursday to proceed with all fall sports as currently planned during its Zoom meeting.
The tight 5-4 vote passed to allow fall athletics to begin under PIAA and Upper Perkiomen School District Health & Safety Plan when Pioneer Athletic Conference schools begin preseason on Sept. 7.
Upper Perkiomen became an anomaly among PAC Frontier Division schools after Pottstown, Pope John Paul II, Phoenixville (excluding singles tennis and golf) have already cancelled fall sports. Earlier this week, Pottsgrove approved competition for all sports except football in accordance with Montgomery County public health guidelines released Aug. 25. Upper Merion is expected to vote on fall sports on Monday.
Other PAC members Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford and Methacton are presently moving forward with fall sports while Norristown was the first in the region to opt out of the season on July 30.
The board approved a recommendation and plan outlined during the meeting by Superintendent Dr. Allyn Roche, high school principal Dr. Rob Carpenter and Athletic Director Bobby Kurzweg.
Board President Dr. Kerry Drake noted the conflicting guidances the district was receiving between Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf’s ‘strong recommendation’ to halt youth sports until 2021, the PIAA’s determination to allow all sports and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health’s support of holding sports in compliance with current COVID-19 PCR percent positivity rates in the county.
Board member Stephen Cunningham amended the motion stated on the agenda to allow only ‘lower-risk’ golf and singles tennis but the motion was denied 7-2.
Board member Raeann Hofkin followed with a motion allowing all sports, including ‘higher-risk’ football and water polo, that passed by a vote. Voting yes were Hofkin, Vice President Mike Elliott, Judy Maginnis, Keith McCarrick and Peg Pennepacker.
Girls soccer coach Mike Freed and field hockey coach Jamie Warren expressed their appreciation to the board for its ruling.
“Between waiting for the PIAA to make their decisions, mixed messages about sports from Harrisburg and watching other schools in and around the league cancel their fall sports, there were plenty of off-the-field distractions,” said Freed, also a Red Hill resident. “But through it all, they adapted, followed the rules and showed the maturity to focus on the things they could control – their effort and their attitude.
“Tonight you sent an important message to the student-athletes. It’s easy to say ‘We value athletics’, but actions speak louder than words. Allowing them to compete this fall showed all the student-athletes they are valued and their hard work, commitment and perseverance is appreciated. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. We will do everything in our power to show your faith in us was well-founded.”
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