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Pioneer Athletic Conference moves spring start to March 22, sticking with league-only plan

The Pioneer Athletic Conference is going 3-for-3.

The league announced Wednesday that it will delay the start of spring sports’ preseason until March 22 and compete in league-only competition during the regular season. The decision to independently deviate from the PIAA’s opening date (March 8) and play exclusively in league is consistent with its handling of fall and winter sports.

“We’re being consistent by playing within the league with the safety protocols in place in the interest of the safety of our student-athletes,” said Pottsgrove athletic director Steve Anspach, the head of the PAC ADs. “Within our league we have a great working relationship among all the member schools and the athletic directors. We like what we’re doing so we wanted to continue that within our conference.”

Anspach cited the conflicting timeline between the end of the delayed winter season and start of spring and lack of offseason workout opportunities as primary reasons for the date adjustment.

“A two-week delay will help the conflict between winter and spring sports and allow some preseason workouts to begin. And hopefully the weather will be improved to allow our programs to get outside,” he said.

April 7 will be the first competition date for spring sports. Track and field, boys’ volleyball, lacrosse, baseball and softball require 15 days within three weeks for preseason. Tennis may begin earlier due to having less required preseason practices (5 days within one week).

The three-week delayed winter sports season – due to delayed preseason start in December followed by a state-mandated shutdown on all scholastic sports – created a potential logjam with the start of spring that has largely been alleviated.

A year ago, the District 1 basketball playoffs began on Feb. 14 in Class 6A, Feb. 18 in 5A.

This year, district basketball will not begin until March 6.

With the number of winter teams potentially still competing into the second week of March, there were concerns over facilities use with spring teams often being relegated indoors at the start of preseason.

Teams will play league-only games in the regular season and be allowed the schedule non-league games after completing its league commitment.

Consistent health and safety protocols, controlled network and the close contact between the PAC’s leadership has made staying within the league effective.

“At the end of the day it’s about our student-athletes and doing what’s best from a safety standpoint and gives us an opportunity to play,” Anspach said.

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