The New Fourth Sports Season


Sam Orroth

Unfortunately, half of the fall sports at Ipswich High School have the possibility of losing their fall season. Due to the pandemic, competitive cheerleading, volleyball, and football are all too high of a risk to take place during the fall. However, the MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) has created a new sports season called Fall 2 so the higher risk sports can take place. In September, Massachusetts was not equipped to handle the higher risk sports due to the state of the pandemic. Hopefully, by Fall 2 the state of the pandemic will have improved enough where higher contact sports can happen.

Fall 2 will be taking place from February 22nd to April 25th, which is in between the scheduled time for winter and spring sports. Students could hypothetically play four sports this year. Each sport has been affected differently due to new rules that are being enforced due to COVID. 

According to Mr. Gallagher, the school’s athletic director, some things are still up in the air such as schedules, whether fields will be available due to weather, and if students will be able to attend sporting events. When asked if the sports’ seasons will continue without a vaccine, he responded that, “this decision will be made by the EEA (Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs), MIAA & DESE (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) based on the metrics for the state.” Unfortunately, most variables will depend on the conditions of the pandemic so not much planning can be done as of right now. 

For volleyball, the teams are not allowed to switch sides of the court; all players must be six feet apart on the bench.  Masks must be worn at all times, and there is a three feet zone on either side of the net. The three feet zone is to protect the front row players and will ensure that athletes on opposing teams will be six feet apart. The three feet zone will affect the student athlete’s ability to block and spike. When asked about the rule change, Ms. Sonke, the new varsity volleyball coach, said it “will definitely be different strategy-wise.” She also stated that “we [volleyball] did luck out because the modifications didn’t change the game exponentially,” Inferring that other sports modifications have drastically changed the games. 

So far only suggestions have been made to change the regulations of football. The major modifications so far are that the team box on the sideline will be extended, the ball will be sanitized throughout the game, face masks must worn at all times, and half time can be extended. The football modifications have not been finalized by the MIAA because of their high-risk status. Volleyball had the possibility of playing in the first fall season because they were only a moderate risk level, but due to volleyball being inside they were pushed back to the second season. In addition, due to football being a high-contact and thus a high-risk sport, they were also delayed into the Fall 2 season. 

Similar to football, competitive cheerleading is a high-risk sport, so there aren’t any finalized changes. The only announcements that the MIAA has made so far is for sideline cheering at sporting events saying that “Participants should be appropriately spaced on the court, field or sideline to ensure proper social distancing.” 

As of right now, most student athletes are hopeful for their sports season, especially seniors. When asked about the possibility of her upcoming season, Anna Mossler, varsity volleyball captain, answered saying, “I have some hope because they’ve found a way for it to work with almost all the other sports.” Sports are a key aspect of student life at Ipswich High School. The possibility of not being able to play some student’s last season is an idea that hopefully will not become a reality.