SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ – Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School athletic director Ryan Miller has been appointed to the NJSIAA's new COVID-19 Sports Advisory Task Force, a group of athletic directors from across the state who will consider a wide range of sports-specific proposals and recommendations with a focus on implementing, executing and enforcing potential modifications. The NJSIAA is the governing body for high school sports in New Jersey, and is planning for the safe return of high school sports in the state.
This announcement follows the NJSIAA’s formation of its COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force, which will identify and implement both general and sports-specific modifications. These two task forces will work independently, but communicate regularly and provide ongoing counsel to each other. Both will make recommendations to NJSIAA leadership, which will then work within governmental and NFHS (National Federation of High School Sport) guidelines to manage the reopening process.
The Sports Advisory Task Force will be chaired by Rutherford High School Athletic Director and former NJSIAA President Dave Frazier. It will also include the following high school athletic directors: Denis Nelson (River Dell), Kevin Murphy (Washington Township), Ryan Miller, (Scotch Plains-Fanwood), Vito Chiaravalloti, (Christian Brothers Academy), Dan Uszaki (Northern Burlington Regional), and Todd Ricker (Parsippany Hills). Tom Mullahey, Clifton High School athletic director, will serve as the NJSIAA Executive Committee liaison, and Colleen Maguire, NJSIAA Director of Finance and Administration, will serve as the NJSIAA liaison.
"I have always believed that when you are part of an organization and are asked to take on a bigger role, you should seize that opportunity," said Miller, who is humbled and honored to be part of the task force. "I plan to do a lot of listening in the beginning and want to provide input not only on behalf of Scotch Plains-Fanwood but also on behalf of Union County. I'm proud to represent Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in this manner."
Miller said he plans to look at ideas and proposals in totality and that making special rules in certain instances can be counterproductive. He also explained that there are many factors besides the obvious ones in decision-making.
"One of the things that is being considered is setting schedules that keep teams closer to home, so there is less traveling," Miller told TAPintoSPF. "However, even with a non-contact sport, such as tennis or swimming, you still have to load kids on a bus. That means possible exposure to the virus."
“More than anyone else, athletic directors want to see a safe return to high school sports,” task force chair Dave Frazier said. “But, we also clearly understand the significant challenges ahead. I’m confident we’ll make tremendous progress, and optimistic that we’ll see kids playing again before too long. But, it’s essential to manage expectations and prepare our students-athletes – as well as those who cheer them on – for the short-term changes that may be necessary.”
“Input from our peers will be essential as we try to navigate the various guidelines, the needs of our members schools and the concerns of our student athletes,” added Mullahey.
The NJSIAA's COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force is chaired by Mary Liz Ivins, President, NJSIAA Executive Committee. Committee members include:
- Kathy Whalen, NJ Department of Education,
- Dr. Lakota Kruse, medical director, NJ Department of Health, Division of Family Health Services,
- Dr. Jack Kripsak, chair of the NJSIAA Medical Advisory Committee,
- Dr. Damion Martins, team physician and Director of Internal Medicine to the New York Jets and a member of the NFL COVID Taskforce,
- Dr. Rob Franks, a team physician for USA wrestling and team consultant to the Philadelphia Phillies,
- NJSIAA assistant director Tony Maselli will serve as the NJSIAA liaison.
Established in 1918, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association (NJSIAA) is a voluntary, non-profit organization comprised of 436 accredited public, private, and parochial high schools. A member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the NJSIAA conducts tournaments and crowns champions in 32 sports. Championship competition for girls is sponsored in basketball, bowling, cross-country, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, and volleyball. Boys’ championships are determined in baseball, basketball, bowling, cross-country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, volleyball, and wrestling.