Most winter sports throughout Vermont will take place in 2020, as the state released its guidance during a recent Governor Phil Scott’s press conference.
While wrestling and indoor track are a no-go due to safety concerns, all other winter sports are allowed to begin practicing Nov. 30 and games can start no earlier than Jan. 11.
The winter sports that will be able to compete in 2020 are basketball, dance, gymnastics, hockey, Nordic skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding.
It will be an unprecedented preseason for all teams throughout the state. Typically, games begin roughly two weeks after the official start of the season. This year, preseason will last a full six weeks.
Mount Anthony boys basketball coach Marcus Hass believes the extra time will be beneficial for creating chemistry on the court.
“Usually we get two weeks and I feel like that’s pretty quick, especially looking at this year with not being able to do stuff this summer or this spring,” Hass said. “That six weeks is going to help out. It’ll be good for basketball overall, everybody will be at a high level of play come January.”
Burr and Burton hockey coach Mark Slade said he is excited to get the season started.
“We’re happy to have a season, and if that means we get to hang out with each other for six weeks, getting ready for our first game, I’m just happy to be around the guys,” Slade said. “It’s a great group and I’m really excited.”
Fans will not be allowed to attend games under the current guidance. MAU’s coach doesn’t believe that will affect his players.
“Most of them have gone through and played a fall sport,” Hass said. “We’re bringing in a lot of experienced guys. They understand that there are going to be some changes.”
Slade admitted it might be a little weird.
“I think it will be an odd feeling walking to the bench and the kids getting on the ice without the fans,” Slade said.
Hass was excited when he found out about the guidance and that basketball will be played this winter.
“I’m excited to get the guys on the court,” Hass said. “I know they’re eager to get back. There’ll be some changes and stipulations here and there but I think we’re all excited just to get back in the gym.”
“They just want to get out and play,” Hass said. “I think that it’ll be different for sure, but I think that our guys will definitely be up for the task.”
Slade said once he heard the news that there would be a season he was “really happy for the kids.”
“Especially our seniors,” Slade said.
Hass said despite the news, he knows things can change in an instant.
“I’m still nervous,” Hass said. “I’m nervous that we’ll get shut down halfway through (the season) or we won’t make it there at all. But, I understand the severity of the issue. Kids’ health, and everybody’s health, comes first.”
COVID-19 has changed the way sports are played. Ultimately, Slade is looking forward to getting the chance to step back on the ice.
“We’re going to have a safe experience, and have a blast as long as it lasts,” Slade said.