Baltimore City Public Schools announced it will resume high school athletics with voluntary workouts beginning Monday and games for spring sports beginning April 5.
The plan will roll out in five phases, beginning with small groups of voluntary conditioning drills next week. Tryouts will begin March 14 and end April 3 with games beginning April 5. The regular season is scheduled to conclude May 22, in accordance with the schedule set by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
Spring sports in the city include lacrosse, track and field, baseball and softball.
The city will also offer conditioning and “end-of-year” workouts for sports not typically played in the spring such as basketball, football, soccer, wrestling and cross country. This will include training and other team-oriented drills.
Baltimore City Public Schools coordinator of interscholastic athletics Tiffany Byrd is glad to see student-athletes get back on the field.
“We are very excited to welcome our student-athletes back,” Byrd said. “The team has worked diligently to put in place the safety measures needed to make this happen safely. We look forward to a great season.”
Spring athletics have not been played since 2019 in Baltimore because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The timeline was informed by school athletic directors’ feedback and will allow time for training, registration completion, and document verification. All in-person groups will meet state and local guidelines,” according to a news release from Baltimore City Public Schools.
“The district has been eager to see our student-athletes return to play. However, our priority has always been to protect their health and safety. Canceling the fall and winter season has been a difficult decision, and we know the wait has been hard, but we are looking forward to the spring season and additional opportunities to engage all athletes.”
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It is the first time in 31 years that City lacrosse coach Anthony “Merc” Ryan hasn’t been out on the field to lead a team this late in the year. Ryan said he learned of Baltimore City’s return to play from athletic director Rolynda Contee.
Lacrosse in Baltimore City is often played by multisport athletes. Ryan said his players haven’t participated in any other school sports this year because of the cancellation of the fall and winter seasons. Because of that, he thinks there will be an added focus to the lacrosse season for his players.
“By them not having any other seasons or any other sports, we’ll probably get an influx of kids from football and basketball that we normally wouldn’t get,” Ryan said. “That’s a plus and hopefully it’ll catch on — after all, we were the only period that didn’t have season with track, baseball, softball and lacrosse.”
Many of Ryan’s players missed their senior seasons of lacrosse last year. Other players haven’t been able to get the same playing experience that they’d normally receive over the course of the year. It was in part due to Baltimore City’s COVID-19 restrictions for recreational leagues, which would often host summer lacrosse teams. Ryan is looking forward to giving his players the opportunity to play and let loose after a full-season hiatus.
“It was disheartening — heartbreaking to not have those guys [seniors] there,” said Ryan, a standout lacrosse player at Morgan State. “Three years prior, we had high expectations for what we wanted to do and these kids finally got into a position where they were going to be leaders of the team. With having to graduate and not be able to play, that was tough. Entering into this season, I won’t just be coaching lacrosse. I will be coaching kids that have been isolated for practically a year and they haven’t had much activity. Kids are just going to be excited to get out there and they’ll enjoy it.”