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Vermont winter sports get the greenlight

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) - The winter sports season is right around the corner and student-athletes around the region are gearing up to compete. All high school winter sports are a go. That was not the case last year during the height of the pandemic.

“It was a bummer not having a season,” said Hartford High School senior Caroline Hamilton, a track and field athlete. She’s looking forward to competition, provided that the facilities hosting the events are available. They were off-limits last year.

“Track is a sport especially for hurdles and jumping, you can’t really practice without a track and sandpit,” Hamilton said.

Another big difference -- fans will once again be allowed in the stands. “It was definitely a challenge,” said Hartford High School senior Jacob Seaver, whose favorite sport is basketball. “It is also ways fun having the student section there, everyone cheering for you. But we adapted and did what we had to and excited for that this year.”

“People are excited to be back to support their peers, in this case, and families supporting their kids,” said Dan Shepardson, the athletic director at Champlain Valley Union High School.

The state guidelines for the winter are recommendations. Individual districts will have the final say and athletic directors around the region says it’s not just about sports. “The music, the theatre, the drama -- all are allowed to have live audiences and to be able to sing inside and perform inside is huge,” Shepardson said.

Weekly testing is encouraged for non-vaccinated athletes and most competitors will still need to wear a mask. A reminder that we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID.

“It’s exciting. It’s definitely exciting that we are not going to have a season at all. But it is a little nerve-racking because with track meets, everyone is compiled pretty tight knit into a little space,” Hamilton said. But she says it’s a risk she’s willing to take.

And fans will once again have a front-row seat to the action, in all likelihood, fully masked as well. “It just makes it so much better to have everyone involved with you as a player and everyone around you and represent the community,” Seaver said.

The Hartford district still needs to officially adopt its winter guidelines, however, they are likely to be right in line with the state, which student-athletes say is a win for winter sports.

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