With the 1-year anniversary of COVID-19 passing in the month of March, schools, stores, and other activities have started to open up again. Along with schools, spring sports are looking to start up two weeks after April break; however, Ultimate Frisbee is forced to undergo more complications than the normal sport. Because it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the MIAA as a sport, Longmeadow High School has to decide what the Ultimate season looks like this year and if it could even run.
Fortunately, club advisor Mrs. Sleigh and Assistant Principal Mr. Dunkerley have been working together and figuring out a solution for the club sport to run. ““Mr. Dunkerley and I have been in planning meetings since the end of January,” explains Mrs. Sleigh. “Our hope is that it will run but there have been more hurdles to getting a “yes” on it.” Mrs. Sleigh is also a part of a pioneer valley group, Valley Ultimate, that began the conversation of trying to save the Ultimate season from COVID. Mr. Dunkerley says that “It started with Valley Ultimate getting together and saying, ‘How could we run Ultimate and make sure we don’t lose this season like we lost last season to COVID?’ That’s where the conversation actually began, with all of the coaches and coordinators getting together and asking, ‘What can we do?’” The conclusion of the group was for each school to have their own intramural league with no intra-school competition. With the majority of the schools in agreement besides two, LHS decided to adopt the changes and even drafted up a detailed proposal of safety regulations. “What we are looking for is to hopefully be able to field 4 co-ed teams with inter-league play among them,” says Mr. Dunkerley. After looking at the proposal that Mrs. Sleigh and some captains wrote up, “We had to take a look at those rules from an administrative standpoint so I sat down with our COVID compliance officer for the town and went through all of the rules and proposals to make sure they were appropriate,” explains Mr. Dunkerley.
Unfortunately, Ultimate will still look very different compared to previous years. “Tournaments often make up a big chunk of our schedule, but you can imagine why they aren’t happening,” says Mrs. Sleigh. “One of the tournaments we’ve always gone to is at the Oxbow in Northampton. Last year, they had over 1,200 high school Ultimate players; however, there is no way we can hold that this year.” Additionally, the practice fields (Wolf Swamp Fields) that Ultimate usually uses are currently undergoing construction, but Athletic Director “Mr. Capotosto is working with us and he is absolutely committed that we will be able to have our season as designed,” says Mr. Dunkerley.
The biggest downside of Ultimate being a club sport is that Cohort C kids cannot participate as of now. Currently, the rule that all clubs have to follow at LHS is that they cannot meet in person, but only remotely via zoom. “The good news is that if students are moving to Cohort E as of April 26th, they absolutely can participate,” says Mr. Dunkerley. “However, if they remain in Cohort C, they will not be able to play. I am hopeful that maybe the guidance and regulations can change that might be able to allow us for a different approach.”
The season is looking to start on 4/26 and would run until June 4th. If you would like to stay up to date on all information regarding Ultimate, please join the Google Classroom that can be found under the Students Activities and Clubs tab on the school website.