GEORGETOWN — Georgetown High officials began making contingency plans for the fall sports season yesterday after learning the school’s outdoor activities will be banned for the unforeseeable future.
Local officials condemned all Georgetown practice fields between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 a.m. after a Georgetown man became the fifth person in the state this season to contract the potentially deadly Eastern equine encephalitis virus. Nearly all high school practices and games are typically held during that time frame so as to avoid interrupting the school day.
It is the second time in the last month that Georgetown athletics have been put on hold. The school’s preseason workouts were postponed for five days starting Aug. 23 after the death of a horse that contracted EEE at a Georgetown barn.
Georgetown athletic director Chris DiFranco did not respond to calls from The Daily News yesterday as he attempted to formulate a contingency plan. According to cheerleading coach Tracy Wood, DiFranco moved yesterday’s practices into the gyms at Georgetown High and Georgetown Middle School, giving each fall sports team at least an hour to practice.
The following Georgetown coaches did not respond to calls from The Daily News: football coach Paul Sobolewski, field hockey coach Nichole Turcotte, girls soccer coach Colleen Gibbs and boys soccer coach Matt Laut.
“Right now, the athletic department is making other accommodations for the teams,” Wood said. “As far as cheering goes, it doesn’t affect me as much because we practice in the gym. I know Mr. DiFranco is working on a plan for the other teams.”
Wood said DiFranco had yet to make a determination as to whether Georgetown would host its home football game Saturday against Whittier Tech. The game was scheduled for 1 p.m., although if it remains in Georgetown, it would likely move to a time earlier in the day.
The other option for DiFranco is to have Georgetown teams play all of their games on the road. Presumably, DiFranco would need to make an arrangement with other athletic directors around the North Shore concerning the appropriation of gate receipts and concessions.
“I know we rely on the money that comes in at our home games to support our programs,” Wood said.
Georgetown Youth Soccer Association President Rick Umenhofer held a meeting with the GYSA Board of Directors last evening to determine the best course of action for his league moving forward.
“The Board of Health is essentially shutting down the fields right in our practice time,” Umenhofer said. “We follow the lead of the Board of Health and schools as far as safety precautions and field times. We may run a group practice on Sundays; we’ll see if we can get a field area. Our game schedule will be affected.”
The field ban between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 a.m. is expected to continue until the first frost.