By Mike Zummo
All sports at the Wallkill Central School District are a go.
The district Board of Education on Feb. 18 approved the high-risk sports football, volleyball and cheerleading to begin practice on March 1.
The Board of Education also approved the spring sport boys’ lacrosse, which will begin on April 19.
Coaches and athletes alike were excited by the news.
“We’re definitely excited and appreciative to be able to get back out there,” Wallkill football coach Brian Vegliando said.
Much to many people’s surprise over the summer, volleyball was grouped in with the high-risk sports, as it is played inside. Even though low- and moderate-risk sports fall sports were approved to begin on Sept. 24 by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, football and volleyball were postponed to March 1 to create a Fall 2 season.
Then Section 9 postponed the entire Fall season to March and April. Even though low- and moderate risk sports like soccer, cross country, girls’ tennis, and swimming were approved, it’s still been a waiting game for football and volleyball.
Then some hope came to light on Jan. 22 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved high-risk sports to begin Feb. 1 if local health departments signed off on it. Local approval came by the end of the month and Wallkill’s school board only authorized basketball to play.
“When basketball got its approval, I think that’s when we thought we would probably get it,” volleyball coach Julie Michella said.
Practice will begin Monday and the season is expected to run until April 18. Vegliando said the football team is expected to play a six-game season.
The Panthers were able to do some cohorted offseason work earlier in the school year, and he and his coaches have held workouts over Zoom, where they could either take their phone with them to a local gym, or at home to prepare for the season.
However, he expects that since not every player may have access to facilities outside of school, it’s to be expected for some of the athletes to come into that opening practice in various levels of fitness.
Things are going to look different for the volleyball players, as well.
Michella said the team will have to wear masks and they are going to do more work in small groups than in years past. They will also play in the middle school.
The district opened registration to all Fall 2 varsity and JV sports the day after the Board of Education unanimously voted to allow football, volleyball, and cheerleading. Modified sports are scheduled to begin on March 8.
Both coaches talked to their teams on Friday and Vegliando sent out messages through the school’s system and on social media. All the messages showed excitement on the part of the players.
“Almost every message was, ‘ready to go’ and ‘let’s go get them’,” Vegliando said.
Michella talked to all her varsity players on Thursday, and everyone – especially the team’s seniors – is excited that they’re going to have a season, after it looked like in January that they may not.
“They’re all happy to have a season out there with their friends,” Michella said.