High Schools: Athol gets OK from school committee for fall sports

  • Athol’s field hockey team, pictured here in 2015 action, is ready for its 2020 season after the Athol-Royalston School Committee approved fall sports Wednesday. File Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2020 5:37:39 PM
Modified: 9/17/2020 5:37:29 PM

Thanks to school committee approval on Wednesday night, Athol High School is officially on board with competing in a trio of sports this fall.

The Athol-Royalston Regional School District School Committee unanimously approved the district for competition in field hockey, golf and cross country this fall, clearing the way for Athol High School to participate along with Franklin County schools. Practices are set to begin today, with games and competitions to follow Oct. 1.

“I think now that we’ve gotten that approval (from the school committee), now we’re in a situation where, ‘Let’s get going and try and offer these sports for the kids,’” Athol Athletic Director Dan Bevis said on Thursday.

Bevis presented before the school committee during Wednesday night’s meeting, laying out the foundation for a fall season where Franklin County Athletic Directors (FCAD) voted to compete in field hockey, golf and cross country, while postponing soccer, football, cheering and volleyball to the newly-created Fall II season set to run from February through April.

The situation was a bit trickier in Athol, which hasn’t offered golf or cross country in over a decade. With just field hockey remaining as a potential offering, Bevis asked the school committee for approval on adding those two sports, and he said he already has coaches hired for the impending seasons.

Athol-Royalston Superintendent Darcy Fernandes lauded Bevis for his work on the matter, saying she supported his recommendations and the school committee agreed with unanimous approval.

“He thought it through quite a bit, he’s worked very closely with the other schools and communities around us so we are offering similar activities,” Fernandes said of Bevis.

Athol student-athletes won’t have access to the school or locker rooms, and they’ll be asked to arrive ready for practices and competitions.

As for transportation, Bevis said he has worked with E. H. Merrifield Bus Company for away games. Competitions will be varsity only, and the maximum capacity on busses will be between 15-23.

The golf team will have access to Ellinwood Country Club during the week for practices and matches, and Bevis said many in the community have offered to donate equipment for new players.

Area schools won’t allow spectators at fall sporting events, and Bevis said he said that games will be recorded or live streamed by Athol Orange Community Television (AOTV).

“We have a good working partnership with AOTV,” he explained. “They were great for us in the spring when it came time for us to do some of our senior activities. We’re very open to trying to get as much available as possible. With golf and cross country, it’s going to be very tough to live stream but we’ll see what we can do in order to try and provide some coverage there.”

Bevis told the school committee that he reached out to some fellow Worcester County schools about possibly playing soccer games in the central Mass. bubble, but said that ultimately wasn’t a match.

“With us being in a unique situation where we’re technically in Worcester County but we play athletics in Western Mass. and against Franklin County schools, when Franklin County voted to not have soccer, it didn’t hurt for us to ask being that some of those schools (in central Mass.) are closer to us,” Bevis said. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

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