Coy Bastian is like most every other high school athlete in Pennsylvania.
He and his Selinsgrove football teammates have followed all the protocols and have done what they’ve been told with regard to the coronavirus for weeks, if not months.
However, they still don’t know whether there will be a fall sports season in 2020 — and they will have to wait another two weeks to find out.
“Talking to different kids, we just want an answer,” Bastian said. “We just want to play.”
After Governor Tom Wolf’s recommendation Thursday that high school and youth sports be shut down until Jan. 1, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Board of Directors met later Thursday and again Friday. The PIAA determined by a 30-2 vote to wait until an Aug. 21 meeting to decide what to do next.
The extra time is to allow for a dialogue with Wolf, the Pa. Department of Education and the Pa. Department of Health to hopefully determine a plan for the fall.
Friday’s announcement postpones the start of heat acclimatization for football from Monday to Aug. 24. It also delays the start of fall sports practices for boys and girls soccer, field hockey, cross-country, golf, girls tennis and girls volleyball one week to Aug. 24. The first date for regular-season football games would be Sept. 11.
“We were all hoping for a decision,” Midd-West senior running back Hunter Wolfley said. “Pushing it back is not the worst thing that could happen, though.”
However, the delay creates more chaos for area coaches and athletic directors as school approaches.
“When (local athletic directors) met back in April, we sort of came up with a bit of a plan to try to start working on schedules,” Shikellamy athletic director Tim Foor said. “If we start football on the 11th, that’s the third week of the division. That means we lost a division game. What are we going to do about that? In the other sports, we’ll have lost two weeks of competition at the least in all of them.
“It’s something we have to figure out, but luckily everybody is in the same situation.”
The delay isn’t just about sports for the players, either. Bastian didn’t play his junior season of football to concentrate on wrestling. His return to the field was more about being with his teammates than playing football again.
“I had played football with the seniors since I was little. I missed football, but I missed being with the guys and the relationships I had built,” Bastian said. “That’s why I want there to be a fall sports season.”
Another possible issue for athletes is recruiting opportunities without a fall season. Bastian has already committed to Bucknell for wrestling “so that does ease my mind a little.” For somebody like Wolfley, though, who burst onto the scene for the Mustangs with a big junior season, there is a lot riding on his senior year.
“I’m open to any schools, but it’s frustrating that you can’t play your senior season,” Wolfley said.
Also, under current COVID-19 restrictions, there won’t be any fans at events, including parents.
“I can’t see my son play live, except for the game Selinsgrove plays over here (in Sunbury),” said Foor, whose son Brett is a wide receiver, defensive back and punt returner at Selinsgrove.
“I think they need parents there in case a kid gets hurt,” Bastian said. “I really wish all the fans could be in the stands, though. There is nothing like the student section and the fans getting fired up. But I understand completely if it doesn’t happen.
“I’ll take a season any way I can get it.”
For the first time in the process, the PIAA seemed willing to consider a condensed season for all sports in the spring.
“I don’t care what happens or when, as long as we can get on the field,” Wolfley said. “I think a lot of people will be happy if we can get back on the field.”
Bastian had some advice for younger athletes about what the situation has taught him.
“We talked all year (as juniors) about how great our senior year was going to be,” Bastian said. “I’ve really learned we can’t take anything for granted.
“I really thought we’d have this solved by now.”