IRHS summer conditioning

Indian River High School athletes perform conditioning exercises in mid-July as summer training for the school's fall sports begins, with precautions in place, including limiting training groups to 'pods' of 10 athletes and wearing masks when they're not actively working out. The DIAA voted on Aug. 6 to delay the fall sports seasons until at least December.

Not content with having their student-athletes just sit on the sidelines, a group of parents have created a Facebook group in an attempt to pressure the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) Board of Directors change their minds on a decision to suspend fall sports into 2021.

The same group of parents have also submitted an online petition to the DIAA in support of that action. As of Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, there were close to 5,400 signatures on the petition.

On Friday, Aug. 14, the DIAA Board unanimously voted, with one abstention, to shift the upcoming fall sports season into February/March 2021, while winter sports would actually start the athletics calendar in November/December. No firm dates were provided by the DIAA at that time, and nothing has been updated since.

Kelly Boettcher started the “Delaware HS Athletes Parent Group” on Facebook, and she is the parent of two senior athletes at Caravel Academy. The petition, created by Lisa Hughes, is aimed at getting the DIAA Board to reverse its decision.

The Delaware Board of Education had approved the DIAA’s plans last Friday, Aug. 21, at a special meeting.

Contacted for comment about the Facebook group — which has more than 3,100 members — and the petition, Boettcher explained the parent groups’ intentions.

“It’s a bunch of parents trying to get together and trying to make a difference in trying to bring the sports back,” said Boettcher. “Most of us agree that it looks like the numbers are looking really, really well, and travel sports and other leagues have played all summer long.

“No one could answer the question [Sanford coach Stan Waterman] asked the DIAA in the [board] meeting — if they could come out with any information if COVID was spread from the summer leagues. Most of us in the parents’ group play in travel sports. My son played baseball in June and July in North Carolina, we’ve been in Pennsylvania, and we have not heard of any outbreaks or issues.

“We are hoping for a good turnout on Saturday. We are trying to get some kids to play the drums. I’m working on speakers for the event as we speak. As of now, we will have four to six kids that will be speaking, and we are hoping to have some [state] representatives there that are supporting us.

“We now are pushing [Gov. John] Carney, and that is getting to the legislators. We already have an email campaign to DIAA and its board but have heard we need to go to the top. At this time, we are working on plans for football and wrestling that [DIAA Executive Director Donna] Polk has asked for.”

And what is it that the group wants the DIAA to know about their concerns?

“We want them to reconsider bringing the fall sports back into the fall, even if it’s a shortened season,” Boettcher continued. “Let’s say they don’t start until October — that gives them a little more time to re-evaluate the numbers and situation.

“I want them to be aware that sometimes you have to look at the whole picture of the kid. The child’s well-being mentally, and physically, is the most important thing. The kids who have been affected by them taking away these sports in some cases could be detrimental. They need to see if it’s going to outweigh them pushing back the season if it’s really warranted, and is it really going be overall the safest thing not to have the season, for the kids?”

Anyone wishing to attend the event should meet at Legislative Green Park in Dover at 11 a.m.

Staff Reporter

Jason has been in journalism for 20 years. He moved to Coastal Delaware in August 2017 with his wife, Jessica, and their daughters, Kylie, 17, and Grace, 12. He has a passion for high-school sports and especially values the relationships that builds.