16 teams set to return for the spring season

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After the return of sports was announced on March 8, many were left with questions about what this would look like for Townsend Harris. On March 27, Athletic Director Lauren Caiaccia sent out an email detailing which sports would return, possible locations for practice, and the necessary steps and forms needed to join any given team. This condensed spring season will not run until mid-June. 

According to the email, 16 sports teams from the fall, winter, and spring seasons will return. These sports include boys and girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer, girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls handball, baseball, softball, and fencing. Each sport was followed by a list of possible locations that will be available for teams to practice at. Some of the locations included Kissena Park, Pomonok Playground, Cunningham Park, Main Street Park, and the Townsend Harris gym. “I want to emphasize that this is a very large offering, and we ([administrators], [Athletic Director], and coaches) will do the best that we can, and we will need to coordinate with many constituents (security, custodians, attendance, permits, etc),” said Ms. Caiaccia. 

Offering 16 teams was not an easy feat and required the coordination of many, including Principal Brian Condon and Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee. The process of selecting which sports to offer also involved many variables. According to Ms. Caiaccia, primary concerns included location and space, where teams could practice and possibly compete; coach availability, which coaches would be willing and able to return; and coaching expertise, whether the coach has experience. Ms. Caiaccia also said, “PSAL was not offering any form of JV programs, and they were only allowing general track and field.” 

Ms. Caiaccia’s email also included instructions for joining a team, as well as four forms that student-athletes must complete and hand to their coach in order to participate in tryouts. The first form is the Interval Health form, an online form that will indicate if a prior PSAL Pre-Participation Exam form may be used, if necessary. The second form is the Pre-Participation Exam form; the student must complete a new form if they are either a freshman, the prior exam form is dated July 1, 2019, or later, or if the Interval Health form indicates that a new form is required. The third and fourth forms are the PSAL Parental Consent Form and a Consent to COVID Testing form. 

Successfully having teams return this spring means certain rules and expectations must be followed in order to keep everyone safe. For example, masks must be worn, there will be no access to locker rooms, practices may be canceled due to space or weather constraints, student-athletes must arrive and return from their respective practice locations independently, and there must be a two-week conditioning period at the start of the season. Additionally, PSAL released a timetable, specifying how long a sport must condition for, how long the practice window is, and how long the competition window is, if applicable. Each window varies for each session, with there being three sessions of several sports. The conditioning and practice windows range from 1 to 3 weeks, and the competition window starts at various times between late April and mid-May. Sports officially started last Monday, April 5; however, only medical and consent form collections and preliminary conditioning without equipment are authorized during this window.

As the season progresses and the teams return, there is certainly excitement for this sense of normalcy, even if practices and competitions will look different.