This fall season of Maclay’s Upper School athletics will be like no other. Originally, fall sports were set to begin Monday, August 3, but following a vote by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), the season was delayed until Aug. 24. 

In an emergency meeting, the association’s Board of Directors voted 11-4 to delay the fall season. This vote and reversal came less than a week after the same board voted 10-5 to start the season on time.  It is believed that the reversal vote came after the Miami-Dade School Board threatened to withdraw from the association if the original decision wasn’t reversed. The Miami-Dade school board was concerned that a delayed start to the season would negatively impact their team’s eligibility to compete for state titles.

This reversal has a larger impact on rural counties in Florida that are not seeing a high number of cases; and therefore, would prefer to start the season on time. The FHSAA Board met August 17 to give more direction for fall sports and what options sports will have for the fall season.

“As we have not shut down at any point over the summer, we will simply continue our protocols for distancing, face coverings, screening, disinfection, and other safety measures as we seek to provide a great competitive experience for you,” Director of Athletics Coach Hilliard said.  

In a recent communication, Coach Hilliard also referred parents and students to the Maclay COVID-19 resource page www.maclay.org/covid-19 for the official policies and any information on how Maclay is working to stay current with strategies for a safer campus.

“The delay won’t affect us, but the training opportunities or the lack of those certainly can,” Head Swim Coach Pavel Sankovich said. “This factor is more in control of the athletes and how responsible, dedicated they are to keep training (or start training) on their own before the season starts.”  

This sentiment is shared with one of his senior swimmers, Daniela Paredes. She has competed on the swim team since 6th grade and believes that the delay will affect the training of the team

“Although the delay will affect my swim endurance, I can still train on my own and build strength,” Paredes said. “Though this season is different, we can still find other ways to train safely. The priority is keeping the team and our community safe; however, we can still try to find ways to keep up our fitness so that we can reach our postseason goals.” 

While disappointed in the delay, many were practicing on their own and remained excited for their seasons to start. Whether the student-athletes are trying to get recruited to play at the collegiate level or just want to finish out their high school career playing the sport they love, it is important for them that the season isn’t canceled altogether. Although the FHSAA has delayed the start of the fall season, the plan is still to have fall sports seasons. 

“I am using the extra time to continue to improve her game,” senior Annika Dean said. “This summer was a little bit more focused on mental toughness preparing for senior year, and training to play at the collegiate level. This year, I’m excited to play with a strong group of girls! I believe that our team has the potential to be the best Maclay girls golf team in history!”

Many of Maclay’s athletes had opportunities to train in some way in the off-season. The weight room was open for certain teams and students during the summer, and many players practiced with club teams as well. 

 “I am excited to see how my team grows under the circumstances we are all in,” Head Volleyball coach Daijah Washington said. “We have remained committed to achieving excellence either on the court or in the weight room this summer. This season is filled with numerous possibilities and I am more than confident that the team will rise to the occasion and overcome.”

Maclay’s fall sports are continuing on with their seasons. Most of them have adapted in some way to keep the athletes safe amid the Covid-19 crisis. For example, the swim team has smaller training groups and a spread out practice setting. 

Though many athletes and teams want to begin their seasons and compete as soon as possible, it is important to remember the necessary safety precautions. 

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