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Fall sports season in Baltimore County delayed beyond March 5 because of higher COVID-19 risk

Players and coaches in Baltimore County will continue to hold team only practices after was announced the start of the fall season would be delayed because of COVID-19 dangers.
Players and coaches in Baltimore County will continue to hold team only practices after was announced the start of the fall season would be delayed because of COVID-19 dangers. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Mike Sye, coordinator of athletics for Baltimore County Schools, learned on Thursday, Feb. 25 that the fall season which was supposed to begin with county football games on March 5, will be delayed indefinitely.

“It has to do with the metrics and the CDC guidance, we are currently in code orange,” Sye said. “We will be looking at it weekly and as soon as someone gives me the OK, then we will try and jump back into our schedule.”

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The levels of risk are very high in code red, high in orange, moderate in yellow and low in green.

“While we are not able to play at this time, we will continue to keep our kids safe and continue to practice so that when we are given the green light, we will resume back to our competitive schedule,” Sye said.

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The earliest that could be is March 12.

“It could or it could not, I don’t want people getting their hopes all up,” Sye said. “I can’t control it, it’s one of those things we are trying to follow the guidance. It’s multiple people involved as it relates to this, so we are just trying to get the guidance from those experts and once we get the OK, then I can go back to our ADs and coaches and say, lets pick up where we left off.”

Catonsville athletic director Rich Hambor understands it’s just another mogul ADs and coaches have had to overcome since COVID-19 halted high school sports in Baltimore County in March.

“I haven’t really got too much angry reaction, my coaches kind of know that there are a lot of factors at play and there is not one person making these decisions,” Hambor said. “All of my coaches have been easy to work with, not to say they are not frustrated or sometimes they don’t wish things were easier, everybody does, but I think they are out there to provide a great environment for the kids and they are all doing that — we are keeping our distancing, following the rules and we will be ready to go when it’s time to go.”

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Sye, a standout three-sport track and football athlete, who graduated from Woodlawn High in 1990 and went on to play wide receiver at the University of Delaware, knows what the loss means for athletes and coaches.

“It’s frustrating to all of us, somebody like myself who goes back to high school playing, so I get what this means to folks, but I also understand that we want people safe,” Sye said. “It’s tough and I think it’s hard for coaches to understand it as well when they spent so much time and effort for these kids. They want to see them play, but they also want to see them be healthy and safe at the same time.”

Before receiving the news that Catonsville’s first game would be canceled, Catonsville High football coach Jaren Maybin talked about the attitude of his players since they started practice March 13.

“The attitude for everybody, players and coaches alike, they are just happy for the opportunity to be out of the house, to be able to run around and get that social interaction with their peers and coaches,” Maybin said. “Everybody is just happy to have the opportunity to get back to some sort of normalcy, even if it looks a little bit different then it has in the past.”

The delay of competition could be a benefit because it gives teams extra practice time and games could possibly be played in warmer conditions.

“You’ve got to get stuff installed and you’ve got to get them in condition, but those are things we talked about before we started on March 13th, we were like we just have to be efficient with our time and that’s the main thing that I have been trying to get over to them,” Maybin said. “Outside of safety being the number one priority for everybody, we have to get these guys into condition because if you are not in condition and you are out there tired, that’s when you start to make those mistakes.”

Hambor, who holds multiple records as a standout quarterback for Fairport Harding High in Ohio, knows the value of practice, but understands athletes desire to play real games.

“Extra practice always helps, certainly, but you can get to a point where eventually, you want to start competing,” he said. “But whatever it is that it’s going to look like for us, whether that’s inter-squad scrimmages or whether that’s some modified types of games or maybe playing some 7 on 7 for a while as metrics dictate, I think we are just trying to provide everything that we can and be ready to do more when we are asked.”

Sye appreciates the work of the coaches and athletic directors.

“We are going to continue to do what is necessary, I think our coaches are doing a great job at this time following the guidance,” he said. “As long as we can continue to do that and continue to see the numbers get lower I believe we will be back out on the field soon.”

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