AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) announced Friday that team-based practices and team-based scrimmaging for moderate and high-risk interscholastic winter sports, which were originally slated to begin on December 14, 2020, have been delayed until January 4, 2021.
The decision, which was made in collaboration with the Maine School Boards Association, the Maine School Superintendents Association, the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, and Gov. Janet Mills' administration, comes as Maine continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rate.
The decision does allow for skill-building drills or conditioning to begin as scheduled on December 7, with face coverings, physical distancing, and no close contact. This measure aims to allow student athletes the opportunity to participate in school sports to a limited extent despite the delay in team-based practice and within-team competition.
The State of Maine has also adapted its Guidance for Community Sports Activities to align with these changes.
It was originally announced in October that the winter season would be delayed. Since then, the start date has continued to be pushed back due to a spike in cases and deaths in the state. In early November, the 2020 Cross Country Championships were canceled over coronavirus concerns.
In October, NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with Cheverus High School Women's Basketball Coach Bill Goodman and South Portland High School Men's Ice Hockey Coach Joe Robinson. At the time, both coaches said they were not surprised.
"I thought the delay was going to come," Goodman said.
"I figured it would be at least delayed," Robinson said.
Goodman said their gym is being used for other activities but said they could get creative.
"I know there are other facilities that might be open to maybe having multiple games at a certain time," he said.
While the future of high school winter sports this year is unknown, the coaches said their players are ready to get back to playing in whatever form that may be.
"I have four seniors that I would love to get them some games," Goodman said.
"I know they are really looking forward to playing. They missed a lot last spring," Robinson said.
In November, Maine and six other states agreed to suspend interstate hockey competitions for public and private schools and youth hockey effective Saturday, Nov. 14, through at minimum Dec. 31, 2020.