Spring school sports? Best case May if all goes well

East Providence A.D. Amore listening to medical experts during crisis

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Like many people in administrative positions at the city, state, regional and national levels, East Providence District Athletic Director Gregg Amore is keenly listening to medical professionals about the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to potentially playing school sports before the end of the 2019-20 term.

Amore has already had to deal with the abrupt cancellation of the winter schedule, which saw the Townie boys’ basketball team among the quarterfinalists in the Open State Championship Tournament and still in the midst of one of the program’s best years ever.

EPHS, which wound up with a 21-6 overall record, won 13 league games in the regular season for the first time since 1978-79, reached the Division I playoff semifinals, won its first Open State Tourney outing and had crossed the vaunted 20-win plateau for the first time in quite a while.

“I told the basketball players that even though they didn’t get to finish the journey, their team will go down in Townie Athletics history as one of the best teams in the last 40 years and no one can take that away from them,” Amore said.

The Rhode Island Interscholastic League, like its brethren at all levels of athletics, considered continuing winter competition before the coronavirus outbreak grew exponentially.

The league initially postponed spring sports to the middle of April, but with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s directive last week to keep schools closed for the remainder of the month the earliest the season could begin is May. And even that seems a bit optimistic at this point.

"If we can get back to school in May, and that is a big if, we would be able to play an abbreviated schedule and limited playoff that could conclude before the end of June,” Amore said of spring sports. “We still need six to eight days to select teams and get into game shape so we would be looking at a May 6 or 7 start to actual competition. It would be a challenge, but it is doable.”

Asked what he has told those whose seasons remain in the balance, Amore said, “To spring athletes, I would ask them to do whatever they can to stay in shape, and drill at home. Also to stay in communication with your teammates and coaches and plan for the possibility that you will be back on the field, court, course or track come May 1.”

Amore referred, in part, to remarks made recently on the pandemic's impact on all aspects of society by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when summing up the situation, “To quote Dr. Fauci, ‘the virus will determine' the spring sports schedule.”

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