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PIAA discourages captains practices amid COVID-19 pandemic

Eisenhower’s Owen Trumbull delivers a pitch during a game during April of last season. Spring sports are on hold in Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the PIAA saying on Monday that ‘captains’ practices are not permitted in regards to spring sports. The completion of winter championships are also in jeopardy after Governor Tom Wolf issued a directive to close all schools in the Commonwealth for 10 business days.

The options for staying in shape and sharpening skills for spring sports athletes are becoming more and more limited as organizations continue to roll out changes aimed at slowing the spread of novel coronavirus.

Having already had all practices canceled by Gov. Tom Wolf’s school closure order and local outlets such as the Warren County YMCA and the recently opened The Hub similarly shuttering their doors, the PIAA delivered another blow Monday. In a statement, the organization said holding “captains’ practices or informal workouts offsite,” violates the spirit of the Governor’s closure order and “are not permitted.”

“The intent of (the Governor’s order) is to limit people getting together to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus,” the statement reads. “We have been informed that some schools’ sport teams may be organizing captains’ practices or informal workouts offsite. It’s our position this is contrary to the intent of the Governor’s order and those activities are not permitted.”

The PIAA had already put a two-week postponement on its outstanding winter championships, boys and girls basketball and 2A swimming and diving, and the spring sports season – which opened March 2 – was put on hold by the Governor’s order. The school closure runs through March 29, for now, and spring sports would be set to resume March 30 barring any future changes.

Even if school resumes March 30, the PIAA could still face issues with spring sports if it elects to follow recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sunday. Those recommendations included a limit on gatherings to less than 50 people for a period of eight weeks. Even without spectators, the PIAA could be hard-pressed to stay within those guidelines.

As most things are these days, the situation remains fluid.

“As we move forward, PIAA will continue to work with the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and the Department of Education to provide updated information regarding spring sports and any possible re-start of the winter championships,” the statement read. “This information may change on a day to day basis and some of the qualities that are fundamental lessons of interscholastic athletics are at play here: cooperation, patience, sacrifice, responsibility, respect and teamwork. We will provide more information as it becomes available to us.”

Frazier senior softball player, Emi Curcio, started a petition on change.org Friday urging the PIAA to play the spring sports season.

“I would like to start by saying that I understand that it is ultimately the PIAA’s decision to determine the fate of the season,” the petition says.

“However, at this time, I wholeheartedly believe that there are many more reasons to continue the postponement until it is deemed safe to play, rather than to cancel the remainder of the seasons.”

The petition’s goal is for 75,000 signatures. As of 10 p.m. Monday evening, 61,070 had signed.

“Being a senior, I am concerned that this may force me, as well as many others, to give up their final season of high school sports,” the petition says. “These athletes have worked hard to have the opportunity to play out their final seasons as a representative of their schools. If the seasons are canceled, these senior athletes will have put on their school uniform for the last time without even knowing it.”

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