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NH high school sports to start competition in September

  • Rivendell's Sienna Carter reacts to her team's first goal of the game against Windsor on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Windsor, Vt. Rivendell won 2-1.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • To start the meet Stevens' coach Ian MacDonald gathers golf teams from Lebanon, Stevens, Monadnock and Fall Mountain at the Claremont Country Club, on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in Claremont, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2020 3:32:56 PM
Modified: 8/7/2020 9:52:30 PM

CONCORD — The Granite State high school fall sports season gained further clarity Thursday as the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association set dates for competition to begin.

At a morning meeting, the NHIAA Council adopted first dates to interschool play for all fall sports, in most cases based on risk. Golf and bass fishing can compete on Sept. 10; cross country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball can start play on Sept. 18; and football and spirit can begin competition on Sept. 25. The NHIAA last week set Sept. 8 as the first date for fall practices, about three weeks later than normal.

The association also said all sports except golf and football will have open state tournaments this year, assuming the coronavirus pandemic allows them to happen. That will free schools to schedule regular-season games closer to home without worrying about needing to meet in-division contest minimums to qualify for states.

NHIAA executive director Jeffrey Collins said schools will be the ultimate arbiter on which of the sports they offer get played.

“We don’t want to put arbitrary deadlines to rush this whole thing of whether or not they’re playing,” Collins said in a phone interview. “I’m thinking, by the end of the month, we’ll have some documents or surveys out to members to see what they are going to be playing. We’ll give that information to ADs so they can get to scheduling.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) earlier this summer issued fall sports guidelines meant to reduce the possibility of virus transmission in competition. The recommendations cover a range of items, including social distancing on the sidelines, substitutions, pre- and post-game ceremonies and adjustments to equipment rules.

Collins said the NHIAA pushed cross country’s first competition date back a week to give athletes extra time for conditioning. All sports save for football have their championship dates set, with none of them scheduled for college sites.

Collins said the University of New Hampshire has indicated it won’t allow off-campus teams to use its facilities, meaning football tournaments will possibly be played through home fields of higher seeds. Discussions on the structure of the football and golf postseasons will be forthcoming.

Thursday’s announcement doesn’t put all of the onus on schools, Collins noted. The association is just trying to be as flexible as it can be given the frequent changes created by the virus to schools’ plans for academics and athletics.

“Most of the stuff that we’ve undertaken and done thus far in preparation for this fall has been things members are asking for and we need to provide,” Collins said. “We need to continue to look at that. We have to be tuned into what’s going on in our schools academically but also with COVID cases, the rate of infection, things of that nature. Our job is not done.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.

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