TOPSHAM  — Maine School Administrative District 75 board members voted last week to back Maine Principals’ Association recommendations for restarting school sports, allowing the district to resume most fall competitions.

The MPA, which governs high school athletics, has sanctioned five sports for organized competition: soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and sideline cheering. Football and volleyball are not sanctioned for competition due to the risk of spreading the virus while playing the sport.

Before starting any sports, individual school boards across the state must vote to adopt the MPA recommendations, Superintendent Shawn Chabot said.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, fall sports already had been delayed but were scheduled to restart Monday, Chabot said. That left the school board with little time to approve the MPA recommendations to avoid another delay in MSAD 75, which includes Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham.

Geoff Godo, Mt. Ararat High School’s athletics director, said the district must decide if football and volleyball will have some modified participation that allows those teams to continue practice.

Even if MSAD 75 decides to move forward with sports, it has to wait and see what other school districts agree to compete, Godo said. Competition schedules are being created to match up teams in the same region in order to limit travel.

Normally the district’s conference area stretches to Bangor, Godo said, but that won’t be happening this year.

School board member Eric Lusk said he was reluctant to kill off fall seasons for football and volleyball Thursday.

Godo clarified that while football and volleyball are not cleared for competition in the fall season, MPA has said it might reinstate those sports in the late winter or early spring.

“I want to make it clear to everybody that the concept of football and volleyball is not dead in this school year,” Godo said.

The district intends to provide training for football players, Godo said. That could include offering touch football or seven-on-seven flag football.

“We’re coming off a  state championship in football,” Godo said. “We have a lot of people who are excited about football just as I am that want to stay engaged.”

The volleyball program is offered through a cooperative with Brunswick School Department, so Godo said he will have to have talks with the neighboring school district about opportunities for those athletes.

Godo said adhering to the protocols and procedures provided by the MPA is paramount for schools to have any semblance of a fall athletic season.

Chabot added that if Sagadahoc County, where the district’s middle and high schools are located, loses its “green” designation through the Maine Department of Education due to heightened risk of COVID-19, sports will not be allowed.

Ten board members voted to accept the MPA recommendations and to resume falls ports. Lusk opposed the motion and Washburn abstained, saying he hadn’t been able to review the MPA recommendations.

“I also am hesitant to vote for something tonight given that I haven’t heard from some of those student-athletes or those families who I think really could be impacted,” Washburn said.

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