MIAA approves sectional tournaments for spring high school sports

Staff Writer
Published: 3/12/2021 6:04:04 PM

After having to cancel the 2020 spring sports season following the COVID-19 outbreak, the MIAA said it wanted to make sure to give spring student-athletes the best possible experience this year.

The MIAA Board of Directors (BOD) unanimously voted Friday to officially implement sectional tournaments this spring.

The vote comes on the heels of the MIAA Tournament Management Committee (TMC) voting in a plan on how the tournament would be set up earlier this week.

“It’s exciting. I was hoping to have some sort of tournament to participate in,” Turners Falls softball coach Gary Mullins said. “I was optimistic it was going to happen. With it being an abbreviated season, it’s nice to have something to play for at the end of it.”

The BOD also voted Friday to approve the modifications for all spring sports — baseball, lacrosse, outdoor track, unified track, rugby, softball and tennis — to play. The lone sport they did not vote on was wrestling, as the EEA wants to see how the first few weeks of the football season goes before making a decision.

A large part of Friday’s meeting centered around whether to also have a state tournament at the conclusion of the sectional tournament.

TMC member Jim O’Leary said the reason that a state tournament has not yet been approved by the TMC was because the organization did not want to shorten the regular season, or have the state tournament run into July.

BOD member Tom Arria countered that the option of a state tournament shouldn’t be taken away from the schools able and willing to participate.

“We’re offering something that can work for everyone,” Arria said. “You can play in the sectional tournament, you can opt out, you can lose in the first round and keep playing. The only thing we’re taking away is taking options away from certain groups, which is the best teams in the state. If there’s the possibility of playing in state championship that runs into July, my team will be ready for it.”

In a 14-4 vote, the BOD ultimately decided to send out a survey to each district, which will provide feedback on whether schools would be willing to participate in a state tournament if their team made it. The information includes what the start and end dates would be and if schools would be willing to continue playing into July or have the regular season cut short.

“We’re only hearing one voice,” BOD member Brian McCann said. “A short survey will give us a true perception on what people want. Let’s have the data speak on it.”

The survey will be distributed in the coming days, with the BOD meeting on Wednesday expected to include an official vote.

As for the sectional tournament, every team will have the opportunity to opt in or out of it, no matter a team’s record or how many games it has played. The sectional alignment will be per the current sections as previously established by each sports committee.

The dates for the tournament will depend on Wednesday’s vote of whether a state tournament happens.

“I think it’s always something we shoot for, qualifying and being part of the tournament,” Mullins said. “It’s been part of our regular season for most of the years. I’m excited and I’m sure the kids are, too. We have a large contingency of seniors so it’s great for them to have something to look forward to.”


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