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York-Adams League athletes may receive clarity on winter sports future by end of week

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports

Under Gov. Tom Wolf’s new COVID-19 mitigation plan, scholastic sports can resume on Jan. 4.

When the first York-Adams League games will be played, however, remains a bit of a mystery.

Some clarity for players and coaches in the Y-A League is expected to come as soon as the end of this week though.

The District 3 board will meet Tuesday and could set dates for the district playoffs, which will allow Thursday’s York-Adams League meeting to set a schedule for league competition, according to Central York athletic director Marty Trimmer.

Central York vs McDowell during PIAA Class 6-A second-round boys' basketball action at Central Cambria High School in Edensburg, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. McDowell would win the game 68-61. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Trimmer said he and all of the other athletic directors in the area are focused on finding a way for the athletes to safely play as many games as possible, but like everyone else in the nation, are at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s the kind of the world we live in now,” Trimmer said. “We want to get our athletes a chance to play ... We’re hoping we get the go-ahead on Jan. 4, but you make plans one day and things change the next day. We’ll be ready on Jan. 4 if they tell us we can play.”

At the moment, Y-A teams will be limited to 18 regular-season basketball games, instead of the normal 22.

The PIAA, meanwhile, has announced that it will only allow district champions to advance to the state team playoffs, while reducing the number of qualifiers for the individual state postseason events in wrestling and swimming. Additionally, the state basketball playoff dates have been pushed back.

When Y-A action does resume, wrestlers and basketball players will be required to wear masks during competition.

Central may not play until Jan. 18: While the Y-A League teams may be ready to start practicing once the new year begins, Trimmer’s Central York teams currently won’t be able to play a game until Jan. 18.

The PIAA requires teams to complete 15 practices before their first games and the Panthers' teams were only able to meet three times before the season was paused. Trimmer said there is optimism that the PIAA may reduce its required practices, but nothing is official yet, or imminent.

Central is unlikely to be the only Y-A team in that predicament.

Of course, the reduced practice time could especially become an issue for new coaches, such as Jeff Hoke, who is in his first year leading the highly-successful Central York boys' basketball team. Hoke is replacing Kevin Schieler, who resigned after last season.

Dallastown coach focused on keeping players positive: While athletic directors such as Trimmer are trying to find ways to schedule games, coaches such as Dallastown boys’ basketball coach Mike Grassel are working to keep their players upbeat during a time that feels an awful lot like it did when the winter sports championships were postponed and eventually canceled in  March.

Red Lion's Mike Drew, left, advances the ball while Dallastown's Kane Powers defends during basketball action at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“I truly believe that the kids need it,” Grassel said of playing sports. “I need it… Our biggest thing is trying to stay optimistic. This is mentally draining for them. Unfortunately this probably reminds some  of them of last March when they said it would be a two-week shutdown, which ended up lasting months. It’s like déjà vu for them, but we’re just trying to keep them in a positive mindset.”

Grassel said his team was in the midst of its best practice of the season when Wolf’s decision to pause the season came down on Thursday. The Wildcats’ Saturday scrimmage was canceled and the team ran an intersquad game instead on Friday before moving to virtual workouts until 2021.

Virtual preparation: Dallastown uses an app called Homecourt for at-home training, and in preparation for a potential pause, Grassel and his staff filmed several videos the team will use on Hudl. In addition to practices on Zoom, Grassel will have a number of guest speakers talk to the Wildcats during their break.

Dallastown’s next practice will be No. 15 for them, so the Wildcats could play as early as Jan. 8, once they complete the four practices required by the PIAA after a break of 14 days or longer.

With an updated schedule likely to come later this week, Grassel is cautiously optimistic that he will be able to get back on the floor with the Wildcats in a few short weeks. He needs the game he loves and the stress-relief basketball brings during a time when each day brings new challenges.

Dallastown's Michael Dickson take the ball to the hoop during basketball action against Red Lion at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Dallastown would win the game 45-40. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Until then, the athletic directors will rebuild the schedule while the coaches work to make sure the players are staying physically, and more importantly, mentally fit, while they wait for something completely out of their control to decide their fate.

“I think we’re all kind of numb to it right now as we’ve been going through this for the better part of nine months,” Grassel said. “There’s worry there. I hear it in their voices. I see it in their faces. We’re trying to stay positive and be as ready as we can be come Jan. 4.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.