Section X student athletes rally: ‘Let us play’

Updated: Feb. 1, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST
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CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Instead of Section X athletes taking to the ice or the basketball court Monday, some of them rallied Monday afternoon against the decision to keep their sports season on hold.

Several students and some parents spoke at the St. Lawrence County Legislature meeting Monday night. 

They described the importance of school sports and other activities as one of the few things students have to look forward to outside of class during the pandemic.

Monday was supposed to be the day high-risk winter sports could start if a school and the local health department all agree.

However, last Friday, hundreds of student-athletes in St. Lawrence County learned their season remains on hold.

That energized the rally in Canton Monday.

“I love hockey. So it’s just heartbreaking I can’t be on the ice right now,” said Emma Gibson, Salmon River varsity hockey player.

“I was really expecting to, especially after we’ve been holding off this long already. I though that there was still hope,” said Caleb Darienzo, Massena High School varsity hockey player.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced high-risk sports could start February 1, the athletes rejoiced. But there were a lot of caveats.

“Basically it just started a trickle-down of, I’ll call it, layers of authorization,” said Carl Normandin, Section X Athletics executive director.

One of those layers is getting directives from county public health departments. St. Lawrence County’s came through late last week; Franklin County’s came on Monday.

“It’s not like we’re closing the door on winter sport. We’re realistically just kind of pausing,” said Normandin.

Each school has to come up with its own COVID-19 safety plan. Each school board has to approve it. What sports to go forward with, if any, is up to each school board.

“Really we have only one opportunity to kind of get this right,” said Normandin.

But those approvals can’t come soon enough for student athletes and their parents.

“I mean, there’s life lessons that you will just not learn in the classroom,” said Kevin Hayes, Parishville-Hopkinton parent.

This is the first time high-risk sports have any chance of taking place this school year.

Local mandates are not the only ones that must be met. There are still questions as to whether the north country’s positivity rate for infections meets state requirements for sports to go forward.

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