EAST AMHERST N.Y. (WIVB) – High school athletes throughout Western New York can once again head to the field as low to moderate risk sports kick off tomorrow.
“It’s been a long time coming. I know our kids have done as well as they possibly can in terms of being patient and as far as trusting the process and trusting everything would work out,” said boys varsity soccer coach at Williamsville East High School Tony Schiappa.
The wait is over for Schiappa and for around 50 student athletes he helps coach. He said he’s not taking the opportunity to coach kids on the field again for granted.
“They choose us in terms of being low risk to get that opportunity and we don’t want to ruin it for the rest of the sports come winter,” he said.
Schiappa said each student athlete will be screened for COVID-19 before every practice and game. Players will also be expected to wear a face covering at all times on and off the field. Equipment will be sanitized often, and because locker rooms will not be used, players will have to arrive to the field in their uniform ready to go.
“At the end of the day we have one crack at this,”Schiappa said. “As coaches and as kids we have one crack at making sure we do everything the right way. We’re able to finally take a step forward tomorrow. We don’t to have to take two steps back.”
Not every high school sport that’s usually played in the fall can begin. High School football, volleyball and competitive cheer won’t start until March. On Saturday, parents held a protest saying they want their kids to play high school football now and feel it’s unfair that other states are allowing students to play football already.
“If they don’t hit those guidelines or if kids test positive to a certain extent then don’t play, but they’re not doing it,” said parent John Mariacher. “Close to 40 states are playing high school football so there’s no guess work. If they can do it, why can’t we?”
“We feel for football too, we feel for volleyball, we feel for cheerleading and those sports that don’t get the same opportunity that we do to get out there,” Schiappa said.
High school teams will need to have at least 10 practices done before that can have a game. Schiappa says players can invite a maximum of two people to the games.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.