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TAYLOR MADE: SIB, McCLOE & THE SOAPBOX (2020-08-23)

Before I jump up on my coronavirus soapbox — again — I would ask you to keep Owego assistant basketball coach Charlie Sibley in your thoughts and prayers.

Sib, as he's affectionately called by those who know him, is dealing with serious health issues. I don't know all the details, but do know things are not going well for the man who has been a staple in the Owego basketball community for 50 years.

SCHOLARSHIP
As most of you know, the wrestling community lost a coaching legend with the passing of Jim McCloe. From what I've been told, the man who put Waverly wrestling on the map had been battling cancer since early this year.

The school district is honoring his memory with the Jim McCloe Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donations can be sent to the Waverly Administration Office, 15 Frederick Street, Waverly, NY 14892.

During my days on the interscholastic mats, we scrimmaged Waverly and some of their kids came to a 5-day clinic at Tioga. You knew after walking off the mat against the Wolverines that McCloe had done an excellent job mentoring his charges.

I absorbed some of what I saw from McCloe, as well as Tioga's Mike Norcross (he made the Tigers a powerhouse) and Bob James (I had the pleasure of being his junior high assistant), and went on to a successful career as a head coach at the youth, junior high and high school levels in Colorado.

TIME TO PLAY
This was supposed to be the final weekend of "freedom" for New York state athletes as fall season practices were scheduled to begin Monday. Unfortunately, the athletes are now being held "prisoner" by COVID-19 and will not begin practicing until Sept. 21 (tentatively).

I've stated earlier and still feel the "powers that be" have been dragging their feet on making a final decision about an official start date for fall sports, but at least they are finally moving in the right direction.

Dr. Robert Zayas, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director, tweeted Thursday that the following timeline will be used once guidance from Gov. Mario Cuomo is released.

As of now it is:
• Within 24 hours, section directors and officers will meet
• Within 48 hours, the COVID Task Force will meet
• Within 72 hours, officers will make a decision "if"needed

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association decided to go ahead with a fall season and will start practices Monday. Hopefully, New York will follow suit and clear the way for its proposed start date. However, I worry more and more every day that high school sports will be delayed until January and our athletes will be forced to follow NYSPHSAA's condensed seasons plan. To put it bluntly, this sucks for all the athletes, even more so for the seniors and for those whose who missed out on a 2020 spring season.

I've seen tweets where some people feel spring sports athletes are being excessively punished because they did not have any season in 2020 and will have a condensed season in 2021. I've also seen tweets suggesting the formation of club sports teams should the fall season get scrubbed. This is feasible for some sports, but not others. How do football players come up with equipment? I'm not sure the schools would rent or lend them equipment. And how do you play club volleyball when so many facilities would be prohibiting indoor participation?

Back in June, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey teamed up to produce a joint travel advisory. Connecticut and New Jersey will have fall sports seasons while New York is still "on the fence."

Jersey will go ahead with outdoor sports as planned, but decided Thursday to delay the start of indoor sports. This means volleyball and gymnastics will have a "special season" which begins Feb. 16.

Connecticut will start Sept. 24 — a decision it made at the end of July. Teams will be setting up games with opponents closest in proximity to the school to limit transportation times and to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

I would love to see New York do that. It would be great for Tioga County Sports Report and sister site Valley Sports Report to cover a bunch of intra-county athletic events.

Once again, I will state my belief that it should be the decision of each school district as to whether or not it participates in fall sports, and it should be up to the parents (or guardians) to decide whether or not their child competes. As for Section IV postseason play, that should be a call made by each sport committee.

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CONDENSED SEASONS PLAN
(Dates are tentative)
Season I (Winter Sports)
Dates: Jan. 4-March 13 (Week 27-36), 10 Weeks
Sports: basketball (girls & boys), bowling (girls & boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls & boys), indoor track & field (girls & boys), skiing (girls & boys), swimming (boys), wrestling, competitive cheer
NOTE: Because of the high-risk nature of wrestling and competitive cheer, these sports may have to be moved to Season II or Season III.

Season II (Fall Sports)
Dates: March 1-May 8 (Week 35-44), 10 Weeks
Sports: football, cross country (girls & boys), field hockey, soccer (girls & boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls & boys), unified bowling
NOTE: Weather will have an impact upon outdoor sports in some parts of the state in March and potentially early April. Girls tennis moved to Season III.

Season III (Spring Sports)
Dates: April 5-June 12 (Week 40-49), 10 Weeks
Sports: baseball, softball, golf (girls & boys), lacrosse (girls & boys), tennis (girls & boys), outdoor track & field (girls & boys), unified basketball

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IN PHOTO 2: Charlie Sibley and Owego girls and boys basketball players.

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