School committee decides on the winter sports season


Melanie Duronio

The decision to cancel basketball and ice hockey greatly impacts seniors, who will miss out on the last season of their high school career.

James McDermott, Staff Writer

On December 7, 2020, the Westford School Committee voted 4-3 in favor of cancelling Westford Academy’s boys and girls basketball and boys and girls ice hockey for this year’s winter sports season. This decision was made mainly due to COVID-19 concerns. 

However, the committee did approve alpine ski, nordic ski, swim and dive, and gymnastics. Due to the coronavirus, these approved sports will be played, but teams must abide by the coronavirus guidelines from the MIAA.

“The recommendation was to not move forward with the indoor higher risk close contact sports,” WA Athletic Director Jeff Bunyon said.

Sports such as alpine ski and nordic ski are at lower risk because they are performed outdoors. The extra space to be able to social distance was a major factor in having these outdoor sports approved for play. However, for indoor sports, it wasn’t as simple. 

For indoor sports such as gymnastics, swim, and dive, one of the  factors that helped the school committee decide to approve them is the ability to hold virtual competitions. 

Gymnastics and swimming will be competing virtually. This is in an attempt to lower the risk of passing the virus from school to school.

“This season will look and feel different for sure, but luckily we have a great group of seniors and captains,” Girls’ Varsity Swim Coach Caitlin Klick-McHugh said.

Many of these sports will have to adapt to these strange times, and according to Klick-McHugh, it will definitely be an adjustment.

However, for basketball and ice hockey, virtual competition is not an option because there is no way to compete without both teams in the same building. With basketball and hockey being very close contact sports, there wasn’t a safe enough solution to allow them to be played. 

It has been very hard for the seniors and other student athletes who were planning on participating in basketball and ice hockey. 

Multiple varsity sports captains gave very emotional speeches to the school committee to try to persuade them to approve all winter sports. 

“I have spoken with my team at great lengths and we all want nothing more than to play this season,” girls ice hockey senior captain Meghan Mulhern said. “We are ready to do whatever it takes to make sure we remain safe and are able to play.”

Although it was a very close vote, in the end safety was too much of a concern to be able to approve the close contact indoor sports. 

“Safety is our top priority at Westford Academy and in this community,” Bunyon said.