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Saturday Sports: Reflecting on the 2020-21 high school sports season

Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The 2021 high school sports season wrapped up this week and despite a number of challenges due to COVID-19, athletes across New York State once again had a chance to compete.

Sportscaster Rob Krone had a chance to speak with the Executive Director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Doctor Robert Zayas on Wednesday to get his thoughts on this past season.

The past 16 months were ones of high and lows for high school athletes, beginning in March of 2020 when high school sports came to a halt and ending with Sectional championships last week.

Reaching the finish line in what would be a condensed 2020-21 season is something Zayas says he’s proud of.

”Well, I just think the fact that we’ve been able to accomplish the goal that we established very early on which was to preserve the season for every single student athlete that participates within the structure of our organization. We have 600,000 student athletes that participate in sports and we successfully were able to provide that opportunity for every one of those athletes,” said Zayas.

Zayas says the toughest hurdle the New York State Public High School Athletic Association faced getting kids back to participating was the unknown and how rapidly things changed day to day and hour to hour.

”And that really started way back in March of 2020 and is still to some degree continuing. Not being able to provide definitive answers to our schools has certainly been a challenging aspect of dealing with this pandemic,” said Zayas.

While Dr. Zayas says there will be state championships next year beginning with fall sports, he adds that he’s still uncertain if there will or won’t be some limitations in place, but hopes things will be back to the way they were pre-pandemic now that New York State has reached to 70% vaccination mark.

”As we get closer to the beginning of the school year, we’ll have more certainty on what’s going to be in place and what will be impacting interscholastic athletics. But until we really get into the month of August, we’re not going to have definitive answers as to what limitations or restrictions may still be in place for the start of the fall sports season,” said Zayas.

Dr. Zayas says he was always optimistic about getting some type of sports season and learned one valuable lesson during the COVID-19 pandemic.

”One of the things I learned very early on was not to attempt to predict too far into the future. Although a lot of people were asking us “What’s gonna happen next month, where are we going to be in 3 or 4 months? And I think as an association collectively we did a very good job of not anticipating too far. Not attempting to predict or forecast,” said Zayas.

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