MHS Spring Sports Preview
Messalonskee junior Nate Castner can deal with wearing a face mask beneath his helmet when he and his lacrosse teammates compete this spring. For him, the mask is an afterthought, a minor inconvenience in what he views as a return to normal.
“The best thing is to be able to go out on that field and play like it’s a regular game,” Castner said. “There are no restrictions.”
Castner and other high school athletes across the state experienced just the opposite during the fall and winter.
For Castner, a football player, the fall essentially was a lost season. Instead of the traditional game, players had to settle for flag football, a competition largely limited to skills-position players.
Some sports didn’t happen in any form. Wrestlers, for example, had no competitions, leaving grapplers with little to do other than conditioning workouts.
Messalonskee athletic director Chad Foye is especially happy to see that spectators will be allowed back at sporting events – albeit with social distancing requirements still in place – after having to rely on various online options during the fall and winter.
“The thing you miss is the kids cheering on their classmates,” Foye said. “Not having that this year made it very, very different.”
Along with having spectators, spring sports, which include track, lacrosse, baseball, softball, and tennis, also will feature a largely normal regular season schedule and a postseason, meaning teams will have an opportunity to earn a state title in their respective sport.
Foye said the Maine Principals’ Association has altered the playoff format so that every team regardless of record gets into the tournament. That change, Foye said, seems to have generated excitement among student athletes.
Now, he said, students know that they definitely will get an opportunity to experience the postseason.
There will be a few other changes as well. In baseball, for instance, the home plate umpire will call balls and strikes behind the pitcher rather than the catcher, Foye said.
Foye said the realignment makes clear that the threat of COVID-19 continues and, in fact, he said several schools in the region at this time have had to revert to online learning because of an outbreak.
So while the spring sports season is a step closer back to traditional ways, the reality is the pandemic has yet to disappear and continues to impact the athletic world as well the world in general.