Canton Central School reverses decision, now allows soccer, cross-county for JV, modified students
BY MATT LINDSEY
North Country This Week
CANTON — The Canton Central School Board of Education came through in the final moments for JV and modified student athletes and approved soccer and cross-country seasons.
The Board had initially not planned to offer sports to those students for safety reasons due to COVID-19. However, varsity players were being allowed to play.The Board reversed its decision from last week and now those athletes will likely be able to compete against neighboring schools.
All those who spoke during public comment spoke in favor of JV and modified sports seasons moving forward.
William “Bill” Porter, athletic director, gave a presentation to the Board and public on how the District would handle JV and modified sports seasons.
He too, supported JV and modified sports seasons moving forward.
“I am urging us to consider letting us give it a try,” Porter said. “Obviously if something were to go south we would adjust and potentially pull back.”
Not all board members agreed with offering sports to younger students. Two board members opposed the motion and the remaining board members approved it.
Practices will begin soon and games could begin the week of Oct. 12 if there are no issues. School officials will continue to track COVID-19 cases around the county to decide if games will be allowed and practices can continue. If a district has an outbreak and shuts down in-person learning, they will not be allowed to play. This has happened already at Potsdam and Massena schools.
The meeting lasted about 90 minutes and was broadcast on the district Facebook page.
Athletic Director Presentation
AD Porter covered plans for practices, games with nearby schools and safety precautions, including a two-person spectator rule for athletes. He told the Board the costs involved to offer sports to JV and modified were not expected to be high and provided a slideshow with financial figures.
Porter said he was confident in the student's ability to stay safe. “Out on the field I can’t tell you how receptive the kids have been ... mask-wearing, social distancing, just doing everything right. I think the principals would also attest to the fact their classroom situation right now I’ll just call it weird. They sit at their desks, there’s no discipline problems, they’re just well-behaved.”
The spectator rule applies to both home and away games. Coaches are responsible for enforcing the rule. Teams will limit the size of their game-day rosters to keep crowd size down.
Porter said plans call for allowing people to park nearby the soccer field to watch the game from their vehicles. He figured about 40 vehicles could fit safely.
He warned that if spectators do not follow rules, there will be no spectators allowed.
Porter feared that if athletes are not allowed to participate in soccer and cross country, they may not get the chance to play any sports until spring.
Most winter sports were deemed high-risk by Gov. Cuomo. They include basketball, wrestling, and ice hockey. Indoor track and swimming could be offered. CCS does not have an indoor track facility but has reached out to St. Lawrence University to see if they could use their facilities.
Gov. Cuomo banned fall high-risk sports, including football, volleyball and competitive cheer.
Public Weighs In
About 10 people spoke during public comment, all in favor of JV and modified soccer and cross county being offered this year.
“I understand where you are, I understand the position you are in. I am an elected official as well, said Village trustee Beth Larrabee.
She said village officials have been tackling similar issues, such as opening of the beach and the ice rink.
“St. Lawrence County has done a pretty good job, our numbers are really low and I think you need to take that into consideration,” Larabee said. “If we can’t open the door for our kids, our youngest kids, in these conditions with these numbers, when can we?”
Larabee, who also has children in the district, cited that the governor has okayed sports, Section 10 officials have okayed sports and the CCS Board approved sports for varsity.
“We’re not asking you to be pioneers in this endeavor,” she said. “We won’t be the first ones in the state to go this route and allow these sports.”
Two student athletes addressed the Board citing that it was “unfair” for one age group to be able to play and not others, adding that playing sports gives students incentive to perform better academically and also the benefits of physical activity.
Mike Wentworth, who has coached and taught for about 20 in the district, said he was confused as to why varsity was being allowed to play and younger athletes were not.
He said CCS was one of the only schools not allowing JV and modified sports. Wentworth also said many athletes participated in summer sports not sanctioned by the school and there were no issues at those sporting events.