As the chair of the MIAA State Basketball Committee, St. Mary’s Director of Athletics Jeff Newhall helps govern 750 boys and girls teams across Massachusetts.
This week Newhall met virtually with members of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Council on Youth Sports and discuss the 2020-21 basketball season that usually begins officially with the first practices on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and State Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Scudders were present at the Zoom meeting.
“Gov. Baker’s team is meeting with representatives of each high school sport,” said Newhall. “I was part of a presentation on basketball with Peter Smith and Keith Brouillard, Leominster High Principal and MIAA Basketball Committee member Steve Dubzinski, and Youth Sports Representative David Gleason.”
To Gov. Baker’s credit, the state’s chief executive is already looking toward the high school winter sports season and meeting with experts in the field of health, epidemiology, and sports to obtain their recommendations for the 2020-21 academic year.
Newhall and his committee submitted a seven-page document to Gov. Baker, with recommendations on how to safely return to playing high school basketball this winter in respect to the coronavirus.
“From the game itself, to pre-game, to halftime, to post-game, to timeouts, to referees – we touched upon every aspect for a gradual return to basketball in our report,” said Newhall. “I give credit to Gov. Baker. He and his administration are definitely doing their homework.”
Like administrators, coaches, and student-athletes across the state, Newhall is awaiting a final decision on whether Massachusetts high schools will be allowed to start their fall seasons on Sept. 14 as previous announced.
“Being part of the process that I was this week, I think the state deserves a lot of credit for being as cautious as they have and the results speak for themselves,” said Newhall. “As much as Sec. Scudders would love to see schools sports happen again, her job is to make sure the public health and safety of all residents in the state is paramount.
“With that being said and following the lead of what New Jersey has been doing [in regard to high school sports], I do not have a good read on whether there will be all, some, or nothing,” said Newhall. “But I am optimistic that we will see high school sports being played at some time in the fall. However, I don’t think we’ll see any games until late September or early October, at best, even with the timeline we have now.”