WINDSOR TERRACE — The New York City Department of Health (DOH) has given clearance for outdoor competitive play for high-risk sports to resume across the city in mid-April. This includes competitive team practices, games, scrimmages, meets, matches, and tournaments for football and contact lacrosse.
“It’s been a long, arduous road,” said Chris Hardardt, president of the New York Catholic High School Football League (a separate entity from the Catholic High School Sports Athletic Association), who breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing the news on March 25.
“It’s been unbelievable trying to fight for our kids and fight for our schools to have an opportunity to return to some sense of normalcy.”
Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA Executive Director Dominick Vulpis told The Tablet that the city did not notify the CHSAA specifically and that he and other CHSAA members discovered the announcement on the city DOH’s website.
“Based upon the NYC DOH Sports website statement on outdoor competitive play for high-risk sports, as defined by New York State, may resume in NYC in mid-April, the NYC CHSFL is grateful to begin play the weekend of April 17.”
— CHSAA- Catholic High School Athletic Association (@ChsaaHigh) March 26, 2021
“There’s been no reach-out whatsoever,” Vulpis said of the lack of communication from the city. “But, the most important part is we’re getting some of our kids back to where they want to be on the fields and giving them the opportunities that they’ve been denied to this point in time.”
Vulpis explained that he had sent two additional emails to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and to the city DOH during the week of March 22 — prior to the latest announcement — asking for clarification on the guidance that had been issued earlier in March and for approval to restart high-risk sports within local Catholic high schools.
The CHSAA said it will wait for further guidance from the city’s DOH before resuming play for indoor, high-risk sports — which include basketball, competitive cheerleading, ice hockey, volleyball, and wrestling.
“That’s the best way we can approach this right now,” Vulpis said. “And we are continuing with all of our spring sports that are of the low and moderate levels [which do not need clearance from the city’s DOH].”
Catholic high schools located in Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau Counties received clearance from their local county health departments to resume high-risk sports programs by February 11. The four-game varsity football season in those three counties, for example, will conclude the weekend of April 17.
The varsity football season for the city’s Catholic high schools will begin on the weekend of April 17 and end the weekend of May 8. Playoffs following the completion of the four games have not yet been determined.
The thought process behind this four-week timetable is in consideration of other sports that take place during the spring, according to Hardardt.
“You have multiple sports student athletes — football kids that play lacrosse, baseball kids that play football, and other scenarios like that,’’ explained Hardardt, who is also the athletic director at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, Long Island.
“Everybody’s trying to give as many kids an opportunity to play and not have to choose between two sports that they normally play in the year.”