NJSIAA Makes Final Decision on Winter Sports


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Young female soccer player wearing protective face mask on the field.

Bray Tousignant, Staff Writer

After lots of speculation, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has released its final plans for the high school winter sports season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The committee released initial plans back in October, but they were forced to reevaluate and alter them after the recent uptick in cases in New Jersey.  This original proposal saw the start of practices taking place on December 3 and competition beginning on the 21st.  These new plans, which are final and not subject to change, will push the winter sports season back until the recent surge in coronavirus cases here in New Jersey is hopefully a bit more under control.  The proposal involves splitting the winter season into two sub-seasons for different sports.  Official information for each sport is as follows:

  • Hockey will start practice on December 14, begin competition on January 4, and end February 17.
  • Basketball, fencing, and bowling will start practice on January 11, begin competition on January 26, and end March 6.
  • Winter track and swimming will start practice on February 1, start competition on February 16, and end March 27.
  • Girls volleyball and gymnastics (which had been previously moved from fall), as well as wrestling, will begin practice March 1, begin competition March 16, and end April 24.

Leading up to the decision, winter athletes, coaches and parents all over the state were anxiously awaiting the Sports Advisory Task Force’s decision after they had announced that they would change their original plans.  The decision came as a relief to many because while lots of people wanted to see sports happen, they had to have realized that it would be impossible to have a season with the current state of the virus in New Jersey.  Bogota boys basketball coach Jay Mahoney and Bergen Catholic boys basketball coach both expressed elation for the kids to be able to play their sports season under safe conditions.  Helping contribute to these safe conditions will be an aspect that will be foreign to many winter sports: the lack of people in the stands to watch these games.  The NJSIAA’s decision in conjunction with a recent move by Governor Murphy limiting the number of people allowed to attend indoor gatherings serves to essentially eliminate the possibility of spectators at winter sports this season.  While this is a smart move and one that had to be made, it will certainly be strange seeing nobody in the Bear Cave during basketball season this year.

Exactly how this decision will affect Hawthorne remains to be seen.  Right now, HHS is scheduled to return to hybrid learning by the time winter sports will roll around, but as everyone knows by now, conditions can change and decisions can be made in an instant.  With that being said, many schools are still allowing athletic activities to take place while school is closed, so a school closure might not have a huge impact on sports.  However, it remains uncertain exactly how Hawthorne would approach such a situation.  Hopefully, a scenario that requires a decision like that can be avoided and everyone can stay as safe as possible, and athletes, especially seniors, can get to play a season of sports, albeit a strange one.