First came some jubilation. Then, Gardiner High field hockey coach Sharon Gallant said, excitement tempered.

“I was brinking on euphoria (Wednesday),” she said. “I was so jacked, and then I got the text (Wednesday) night (regarding the state’s involvement) around 9:30, and I was like ‘Oh, no!’ … I feel a little bipolar. One day I’m like ‘Woo!’ and now I’m like ‘Oh my God, I don’t think they’re going to let us play.’ “

Gallant wasn’t the only coach or school administrator to experience a roller coaster of emotions despite the Maine Principals’ Association’s recommendation that fall sports can be played.

The MPA Interscholastic Management Committee approved a plan for fall competition, contingent on a vetting process by state officials to ensure COVID-19 safety guidelines are followed. The vote Thursday came a day after the MPA’s Sports Medicine Committee determined that all fall sports can proceed safely.

The detail of the state’s involvement came as a surprise to some athletic administrators and coaches, many of whom were expecting the MPA’s recommendation to go to each school district for final approval.

Winthrop Athletic Director Joel Stoneton acknowledged he was frustrated by the continued lack of clarity on what was expected to be a day of resolution.

“I do think that there have been too many entities. There are too many groups that are trying to make decisions,” he said. “I know it’s a tough decision, but someone’s got to make it.”

Coaches were left feeling anxious as well. At Mt. Abram High in Strong, boys’ soccer coach Darren Allen has seen his confidence in a fall season ebb and flow like a tide.

“I feel like a yo-yo. (Wednesday), I was feeling good. Watching the (MPA Interscholastic Management Committee) meeting, it doesn’t look that good,” Allen said. “My feelings change from one moment to the next. This is drama. I don’t want drama.”

More than anything, Allen wants an answer to pass along to his team.

“I’ve got 30 kids chomping at the bit to play. We just want to play. We want to adhere to any rules that come out,” Allen said.

Skowhegan Athletic Director Jon Christopher has a checklist of things he needs to do to prepare for a possible fall season. Some of those tasks have been put off while he waits for a definitive answer.

“I honestly don’t know what the time frame will be,” Christopher said. “The more time you have, the easier it is, right? But that’s the kind of world we’re living in.”

Christopher said he expects to offer sports if state officials approve the MPA’s proposal.

“We’re 100%, at this time, planning that it’s going to happen. That doesn’t mean the school is 100 percent behind it,” Christopher said.

Lisbon Athletic Director Eric Hall, a member of the MPA Soccer Committee, said he expects the next step to be additional guidance from the state.

“This isn’t anything that shocked me,” Hall said. “I think what it is, a lot of people out there are thinking that what has happened with the Sports Medicine (Committee meeting on Wednesday), and with Interscholastic Management meeting (on Thursday), that everybody out there is ready to go. There’s still some things that we kind of have to go through (to make sure) everything meets the CDC guidelines, as (well as) the governor’s orders … over the last few months.”

Hall, though said it may become more difficult to put together team schedules if a final decision is delayed much longer. Practices are scheduled to begin on Sept. 8, and the start date for regular-season competition other than football is Sept. 18 (football games would start on Sept. 25).

“I think for us, once we get through these steps along the way, (the challenge) is getting the schedules, and letting your coaches know,” Hall said. “They’ve been practicing, going through each phase, meeting with teams and following the safety guidelines. But at the same time, there’s still questions like ‘What’s the schedule like?’ from parents and student athletes. … The schedules that we had in the spring aren’t really the schedules we’re going to use. A lot of the coaches are like, ‘When’s our first game?’ and ‘Can we get a scrimmage in?’ If we start on Sept. 8, it’s just going to be a sprint there to the first game.”

Morse football coach Jason Darling said he understands why a final decision has yet to be made.

“We are playing the waiting game,” he said. “Even after the recommendations, there’s still a process. And the process is being pushed out more. We’ve done all we can do. Now, we just have to wait. … Kudos to (the state) for wanting to be involved and vet anything they can; it’s part of process. It’s best practices. Look, through this entire thing, we’ve all said we have to get school back. That’s our No. 1 priority. We know how important sports is, but we have to take care of school first. So let’s wait and see what happens and hope that we can somehow play.”

– Staff writer Dave Dyer and sports editor Bill Stewart contributed to this report.

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