OLEAN, NY — It had been a long time coming, but sports have resumed in the Olean City School District.
Low-risk winter sports, consisting of swimming and bowling, began on Jan. 18. A week later, the Cattaraugus County Health Department said moderate and high-risk sports teams could begin practice on Feb. 1.
“It’s been so far so good for the winter low-risk sports. We haven’t had any COVID-related issues,” Olean Athletic Director Steve Anastasia said.
“We are fortunate to be able to get sports going again,” Anastasia said. “We will continue to follow the protocols to continue playing through the end of the spring.”
The district has three seasons set to play in the next five months. The winter season will run until March 27. The first spring season, which Anastasia referred to as “fall two,” will run from March 20 to May 15, and the second spring season will run from May 10 to June 30.
Basketball and wrestling are the two winter sports considered high-risk. Volleyball, football and cheerleading are the high-risk fall sports that will be part of the "fall two" season.
“I don’t believe that some sports such as basketball and volleyball should have been considered high risk. I don’t see them being much different than soccer, which was allowed to play,” Anastasia said.
The spring season will consist of baseball, softball, track, golf and tennis.
Anastasia believes the overlap of the seasons will pose some difficulties but should be manageable.
“The league recently changed from a 14-day overlap to a five-day overlap which is going to help a lot. It would have been much different if it was a 14-day overlap with coaches coaching in separate seasons as well as a limited amount of busses available,” Anastasia said.
Fans not being allowed at sporting events is just one of many COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
“Social distancing, spacing chairs out (7 feet apart) and using the area across from the table to put the chairs in are some of the protocols put in place by the school district,” Anastasia said. “Since there are no spectators, the bleachers will be up to extend the area to social distance on the bench.”
“Masks must be on the athlete at all times and must be worn when on the bench but aren’t mandated during gameplay,” Anastasia said.
The varsity boys basketball team is off to a 2-3 start, with wins over Allegany-Limestone and Bolivar and losses to Jamestown, Southwestern and Fredonia.
The varsity girls basketball team is off to a 2-1 start, with wins over Maple Grove and Chautauqua Lake and a loss to Iroquois.
“The athletes are just so happy to be out there competing again,” Anastasia said. “Win or lose, they’ve found a new appreciation of the game.”
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