Concord High winter athletics given green light to resume

  • Concord High senior Katie Watt practices with her younger brother, Tyler, at the Beaver Meadow Golf Course on Tuesday, January 5, 2020 as the Nordic team gets ready for its season. Katie was accepted to Bates College and will be on their Nordic team next year. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/5/2021 4:28:09 PM

The Crimson Tide is ready to roll again, but it will be a careful roll.

Concord High School’s winter athletic programs were put on hold on Dec. 15 due to increased community transmission of COVID-19, including new cases in district schools. That hold was officially lifted during Monday night’s school board meeting when interim Superintendent Kathleen Murphy and the Concord School Board gave CHS winter teams the green light to resume practices and competition.

“We are moving ahead with that and we will do it very cautiously,” Murphy said. “Should we need to and should circumstances arise, we will put a halt on the program until such time that we think it’s safe.”

Concord High Athletic Director Steve Mello conducted an assessment of the student-athletes and the various athletic teams during the day on Monday. That assessment went well enough for Murphy to make her announcement at the meeting that night and for tryouts and practices to resume on Tuesday, even while Concord High remains in full remote education mode until Jan. 19.

The teams will follow comprehensive health and safety guidelines created by Mello and his staff. Those guidelines were based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, state of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, and they were approved during a Nov. 23 school board meeting when the board overwhelmingly voted (8-1) to allow winter sports.

None of the board members had any questions for Mello or Murphy during Monday night’s meeting. However, Jim Richards, who was elected as the board’s president on Monday, did ask that Mello prepare a report for the board’s instructional committee, which will meet next week, detailing the first several days of practices and tryouts.

“The athletics department did a very, very thorough and good job of crafting and presenting the plan of athletics (during the Nov. 23 meeting), and I just want an update on how are we meeting that plan and are athletics progressing in the manner we have outlined in that plan, and should we be concerned about any single athletic endeavor or group of people or facility,” Richards said.

If there are issues and another pause is necessary, that may happen on a team-by-team basis instead of as an all-or-nothing decision for the entire athletics program. So, even if an indoor sport like basketball or wrestling needs to be paused due to positive test results among players or coaches, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Alpine ski team, which practices outside and may not have any positive test results, would also need to be paused.

“We will monitor that every day,” Murphy said.

If there are no issues, the Concord High boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will play their first games of the season on Jan. 15. The boys’ and girls’ ice hockey teams, which had both advanced to their respective Division I championship games before the 2019-20 winter season was shut down due to COVID-19, are scheduled to open their seasons the next day, Jan. 16, as are the wrestling and Nordic ski teams. The Alpine ski team is scheduled to have its first meet on Jan. 20, ski jumping starts on Jan. 15 and swimming is scheduled to open on Jan. 22.

Other area high schools have been practicing in recent weeks and appear ready to open their seasons as planned. Bishop Brady, Bow, Hopkinton, Coe-Brown, Pembroke Academy, Hillsboro-Deering and Pittsfield are all scheduled to have basketball season openers on Jan. 11. Merrimack Valley starts its winter campaign on Jan. 15 with basketball games against Concord (the girls will play at MV, boys at Concord). John Stark opens its winter season with basketball games on Jan. 18, and Kearsarge Regional starts with basketball games on Jan. 19.

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