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A look ahead for high school sports

Halloween is over, November winds and rains are here, and normally fall sports would be in playoffs, with winter teams eagerly anticipating their first practices.

Of course, like seemingly everything else this year, that schedule is out the window.

That doesn’t mean that nothing is going on for our Shelter Island athletes. On Oct. 5, the school opened two conditioning opportunities for students grades 8 and up in running and golf.

COVID-19 precautions require all conditioning sessions to be held outdoors, so no gym or weight room workouts are allowed.

The conditioning program is open to anyone who signs up and does not require a commitment to join the team when the “fall” season, now designated Season II, opens in March. The programs will continue until the weather becomes prohibitive or the winter sports season begins on Jan. 4.

Coach Bob DeStefano loves to be out on the golf course, teaching kids his favorite game. Nine students have signed up for this opportunity. Unfortunately, the weather and Gardiner’s Bay’s maintenance/aerating of the greens has only allowed one session to date. However, Bob will continue to offer sessions as long as the weather holds out.

Cross country Coach Toby Green is heading up the running program, with Joshua Green (SIHS ’18) and winter track Coach Kevin Barry assisting when they can. “It’s more like a running club,” he said. “There are no requirements, but it’s great for the kids who want to do something or keep in shape.”

There are 22 students signed up, with a handful working out on any given day. Mainly it is team members and those interested in running once the season starts in March.

Volleyball athletes have also been getting together independently to get touches on the ball. Organized by Captain Jane Richards, a small crew of players have met, set up a portable net in Fiske Field and had some fun.

Richards is a senior and hopes to play volleyball in college. She appears to be the lone athlete who is pursuing outside training. With an acceptance to the University of New England in hand, along with an invitation to join the Nor’easters volleyball squad, Jane is continuing to train with the Long Island Blaze travel volleyball team.

Club teams are required to follow USA Volleyball COVID-19 guidelines, so masks and hand sanitizer stations are prominent in practices.

Athletic Director Todd Gulluscio stated, “As of now we are still on track to begin our winter season in Section XI on Jan. 4. We are awaiting the return-to-play guidance for those sports, particularly those that are considered high risk. There is significant planning underway for our return-to-play but no announcements that can be made yet. At this time we are committed to keeping our program in line with low risk sports that we offer at the high school level.”

Currently high school sports are slated to play three compressed seasons: January and February are the traditional winter sports (basketball, cheer, winter track), March and April will host the fall sports (cross country, volleyball, golf), and May and June will see spring competitions (softball, baseball, spring track).

The students miss their teammates, and the community misses the camaraderie of gathering to watch our athletes in action. Let’s all continue to use best COVID-19 practices so we can get back school sports as soon as we safely can.