EASTHAM — Nauset fall sports will be a completely different game this year.
The Cape & Islands League Executive Board voted last week to allow boys golf, cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer, and field hockey to compete in the Fall I season, which will take place from Sept. 21 to Nov. 20.
The board also voted to move football, cheerleading, and volleyball competition to the “Fall II” season, beginning on Feb. 22 and continuing through April 25.
On Aug. 19, the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) presented its modified high school sports season for 2020-21 that includes the two separate fall seasons.
“The recommendations before us may not meet everyone’s expectations, but they provide a real opportunity for our students to take part in high school athletics for the first time in months,” MIAA President Jeff Granatino said in a statement.
The hope is that, by pushing football, cheerleading, and volleyball to the second fall season, competition in those close contact sports will be possible when February rolls around. And although soccer, golf, field hockey, and cross country will be played this fall, there will be some unusual limitations.
The state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) released safety protocols for sports in July, which ranked sports in categories of “low,” “moderate,” or “high” risk. The category determines which of four levels of practice or play teams can look forward to.
Level 1 includes individual or socially distanced group activities (no-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, drills). Level 2 includes competitive practices (intra-team or group games, contact drills, and scrimmages). Level 3 includes competitions (inter-team games, meets, matches, races, etc.). Level 4 includes outdoor tournaments.
Cross country and golf are “low risk” sports and can compete in all levels of play, while soccer and field hockey are “moderate risk” sports and eligible for Level 3 play, as long as certain modifications can be enforced.
Players will have to adapt to these new rules. Cross-country runners will have staggered starts. In soccer, eliminating throw-ins, headers, and physical contact completely changes the game. Field hockey will not allow physical contact among players either, which is a normal part of the game. All players will be required to wear masks.
Nauset Athletic Director John Mattson released information specific to Nauset Regional High School on Twitter last week.
Even though Nauset football is scheduled for the Fall II season, the team will still participate in practice sessions, beginning Sept. 28 for two or three days a week, which can include only individual or socially distanced group activities. Cheerleading and volleyball will not attempt practice sessions until the Fall II season.
Most teams will play 8 to 10 games, and each sport will have a league tournament at the end of the regular season, according to Mattson. Practice schedules and transportation guidelines are still being finalized. A virtual parent and athlete preseason meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.
Mattson said in a statement that the health and safety of student athletes was the top priority. He added that “despite the glaring sport modifications, shortened season, and other challenges, we are excited to offer a fall sports program at Nauset Regional High School.”