REGION – Fans will soon be back in bleachers at a number of area high school sporting events thanks to a decision by the Mid-Wach League to lift a restriction that had banned student spectators from these contests.
Enacted amid rising COVID-19 case rates earlier this month, the restriction ends today.
This Mid-Wach league includes Algonquin Regional High School as well as Shrewsbury, Marlborough, Westborough and Hudson high schools.
Spectator limitations at swimming and indoor track contests remain in place.
Athletic directors celebrate news
Algonquin Regional High School Principal Sean Bevan addressed all this in an email to school community members on Tuesday, saying he and Athletic Director Mike Mocerino were excited to welcome fans back to events
“I am thankful for their patience and the patience of our winter sports athletes as we put the restrictions in place,” he continued.
Athletic directors at other area schools shared similar sentiments this week.
They reiterated however, that mask mandates remain in effect for upcoming events.
“Strict adherence to these mandates will be enforced during athletic contests,” Bevan wrote.
Coaches note impact of fans
Algonquin was one of the first schools in the area to ban student spectators from games late last year after a sudden spike in cases around Dec. 21.
Schools navigated the following days before the Mid-Wach league enacted its restriction, applying to all member schools, on Jan. 3.
Immediate family members have still been allowed to attend games in recent weeks. But student fan sections have sat empty.
That has had an impact on teams, coaches say.
“It truly is hard because we tell the kids ‘…We need energy,’” AMSA boys basketball coach Joe Ciolino told the Community Advocate last week. “Then you get to the games and there’s no music, there’s no fans. And it’s hard for them to really get into the groove of a game early.”
AMSA is not in the Mid-Wach league. It however, has similarly been playing without spectators in recent weeks.
“Sometimes you do come out flat and there’s just nothing to get you pumped,” Ciolino said.
Snow disrupts schedules
A number of area teams are in action tonight.
Upcoming snow, though, will likely snarl plans for additional games on Saturday, potentially delaying the return of spectators for some local teams.
Algonquin bans student spectators at basketball games following ‘rapid uptick’ in COVID-19 cases