BREWER – Athletic administrators across the state have been hard at work with the Maine Principals Association to find the best ways to safely hold the full sports calendar for the upcoming school year. Brewer athletic director David Utterback has a plan that would radically change that schedule, if necessary.
The 2020 spring sports season never got off the ground due to COVID-19; something the high school athletics community does not want to see happen again. “If we don’t try to offer what we can offer in the fall, we’re going to be in a pretty big hole in the spring of ‘21 if we’re trying to do all the outside activities in the spring,” said Brewer athletic director David Utterback.
Utterback has proposed an alternative schedule, meant to be a back up plan if a normal schedule cannot be resumed starting with the fall semester. Under this plan, higher risk sports at spreading COVID-19 like wrestling and competitive cheer would be moved to a new, late winter season while other winter sports would go on as normal. Other high-risk sports like lacrosse, football, soccer and boys lacrosse would be played in the spring. This would clear the way for sports like baseball, softball, cross country, tennis and golf to be played in the fall. Utterback says he hopes this plan doesn’t have to be used;“if this was just a thought that says in a Google Drive as an archive than even better, ‘cause that means we’re doing football and soccer in the fall, either way I think we’ve shown people there is an alternative path to get kids on the field.”
The proposal is not as Utterback would say, a “clean flip” of the yearly schedule. Guidelines by the Center for Disease Control and the National Federation of State High School Associations on returning to play will alter the operation of many sports and factor in to his plan. “The busing guidelines the way they are, a school like Brewer would need eight buses to get to an away track meet, I don’t think you can have a clean flip of the season,” said Utterback.
This plan was presented to the MPA baseball and softball committee in early June. While appreciate of Utterback’s work, the MPA is focused on safely returning to the normal fall schedule. “If and when the time comes for that to be a serious consideration, he’s certainly put the framework together but I think it’s important to note that everything we’re doing is…with the hope that we’re able to get back to school and if we are able to get back to school, we’re able to offer fall programming,” said MPA interscholastic division executive director Mike Burnham.