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G-ASD prepares for fall sports

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The Greencastle-Antrim School District's No. 1 priority as the delayed fall sports season gets underway amid the COVID-19 pandemic is "trying to do the best thing for our kids," according to Vicki Ritchey, athletic director.

Golf teed off earlier this month, but the rest of the opening action is this weekend and next week.

"We're thrilled just to be able to give the kids a fall season," Ritchey said. The spring season was cancelled after schools closed in March due to COVID-19.

Regulations continue to be up for debate in Harrisburg, but at this point games are not open to the public due to state limitations on gatherings — 250 outdoors and 25 indoors.

"We expect this to be an ever-changing situation and will continue to communicate with the community as the circumstances and our options change," said Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent.

The district has developed and is continuing to look at new ways to connect parents and the community with the action.

Varsity football games are traditionally aired through Mid Penn Broadcasting and heard on Greencastle's WRGG radio. Now, every other sport at every level will be live-streamed on the district website and archived for future viewing.

The district website also features packages for all sports, including schedules and pictures, as well as updated COVID-19 information.

"There are a lot of things we haven't done before," Ritchey said.

Senior Night, usually held for each sport at at the end of the season, was a combined event Sept. 14 on Kaley Field.

"We wanted to make sure every one of our kids had a Senior Night," Ritchey said. "We usually have it at the last home divisional game, but we don't know if we'll have a whole season."

The evening saw 100% participation from the 61 senior athletes and band members, who each could have two parents in the stadium.

"It was wonderful," Ritchey said, noting F&M Trust sponsored a tailgate party with snacks and a small gift for each senior.

The combined Senior Night might continue in future years. Without limitations crowd size, the festivities could be open to teammates and the community, Ritchey said.

In light of the 250-25 cap on outdoor and indoor gatherings, the district also has developed a plan to provide athletes with tickets for spectators on a limited basis based on the number of players and support staff for each sport.

For example, there are 226 game day participants for varsity football, including cheerleaders and a pep band, leaving two dozen spaces available for spectators. Each sophomore and junior on the team will get two spectator tickets for one game during the season. Each senior player will get two tickets for two games.

The number of players and staff are lower for field hockey and boys' and girls' soccer, so the student-athletes will get four tickets for all home games.

Because it is an indoor sport, volleyball is more of a challenge. With the 25-person limit, not even all the players can be in the gym at one time. However, the district is planning to allow parents of seniors to attend the last home game wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, according to Hanks.

"We want to send a caution to the community that it is critical that we follow the guidelines so that we do not risk a shutdown of our program or school," Hanks said. "We want our children to play. If something happens at a game because we have too many spectators crowding in areas, we will be held responsible and could face consequences that will not be what we want for our students. We are pleading with the community to help us follow the guidelines so we can have a full season. All games will be broadcast live with easy links on our website by sport."

The website is:

gcasd.org

In opening action, the Blue Devil football team travels to Susquehanna Township this Friday. On Saturday, the boys' soccer teams will host Big Spring, while field hockey is away at Boiling Springs and girls' soccer is at Big Spring. The volleyball season begins Monday with G-A hosting Boiling Springs, followed by cross country facing James Buchanan and Boiling Springs at James Buchanan next Thursday. The first home varsity football game is Friday, Oct. 2, when the Blue Devils will host the Waynesboro Indians.