The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, which are each composed of 29 Baltimore-area private schools, have postponed fall sports indefinitely, according to a statement on the MIAA website.
The announcement on Aug. 13 came a little more than a week after the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed the fall and winter seasons until the second semester and deals another significant blow to any possibility of high school sports competition in Maryland until 2021.
The statement says the leagues decided to postpone all fall athletic competitions and championships “in response to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and with the health, safety and well-being of our member-school campus and athletic communities being paramount.”
The “persistence of the virus and the potential for exposure among student-athletes, coaches, administrators, support staff, fans and local communities, coupled with the need to safely reopen campuses this fall, made it impossible to execute a return to competition at this time without undue risk,” the statement added.
The member schools will reconvene in mid-October to “evaluate the public health crisis and manage competitive options for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”
Though the MIAA and IAAM athletic directors were not directly involved with the meeting, according to Annapolis Area Christian School Athletic Director Josiah Wolf, he was nonetheless unsurprised when the ruling came down.
“Pretty much all the ADs knew it was coming,” Wolf said.
The MIAA and IAAM announced last month that fall sports practices were postponed until Sept. 1 or later but were targeting a start date of Sept. 21 for the season.
Mount de Sales Athletic Director Eric Dummann said that while the leagues did all they could to provide some sort of fall season, “at the end of the day, I think that the risk and liability were unfortunately taking over and would proceed any sort of formal fall season.”
Dummann noted that many of the logistics that are making colleges postpone fall sports are the same at the high school level, most notably travel.
“You’re talking about girls in our league and boys in the MIAA getting on a bus, 40 [people] deep, trying to ride to another county and getting off a bus,” he said. “I think things like that are just logistically not possible.”
AACS will continue its optional workouts and is working to unveil a plan in the coming weeks after approval from its school board to keep student-athletes involved, with hope of intrasquad scrimmages down the road. In the meantime, Wolf will rely on his coaches to keep their players engaged.
“Obviously our student-athletes’ safety is the top priority. We don’t want to do anything the county is advising against. We want to still provide a good experience for them, be it that it’s only going to be on campus and not playing other schools this fall,” Wolf said. “We’re confident we will be able to provide a fun opportunity where they’re still growing in their sport and have that social connection with their teammates and still enjoy their fall season, despite it not being as they’d hoped for.”
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Mount Saint Joseph Director of Athletics Kraig Loovis said the school’s first priority is the safety of students and that the MIAA shares this priority. The school “will follow their lead to allow our students to participate in sports if and when we are able,” he added.
Indian Creek’s volleyball program won the C Conference title in its very first year of existence in 2018 and prospered in the B Conference last season, going 11-3. The Eagles were poised for another big season this fall and coach Corey Somerville had high hopes for his rising junior and outside hitter Laila Ivey, who amassed more than 500 kills her first two seasons.
Somerville said he felt at one point they would get a chance to play this fall. Now, if they play volleyball in the spring, he thinks Ivey could decide to play on her club team instead.
“When I got the email, I was like, ‘Wow.’ It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions,” Somerville said. “Me as a coach, I was excited for the season. I’d got a breakout player on my team I was hoping to keep on the path to reaching another milestone. Things happen. Nothing we can do about it.”