In contrast to several other leagues in the Philadelphia area, the Suburban One League on Friday voted overwhelmingly to move forward with interscholastic sports this fall.
The vote in a roll call of members of the SOL’s Executive Committee was 21-1 in favor, with two abstentions.
Cheltenham, which previously had announced its intention to postpone fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic, voted against the motion to approve a previous recommendation by the league to delay the start of most competition by two weeks and to delay football for four weeks.
Truman and Springfield (Montco) abstained from voting. Plymouth Whitemarsh voted yes for all sports except football.
“I’m just really happy for our players,” Neshaminy football coach Steve Wilmot said. “They’ve worked so hard.
“It’s been an emotional roller-coaster. One minute, I’ve been convinced we were playing. The next minute, I wasn’t so sure. I can’t imagine what that was like for 15- to 18-year-old kids.”
Each school district’s vote was based on the recommendation from its school board.
Under the SOL’s plan, practice for sports such as soccer, field hockey, cross-country, water polo and girls’ volleyball will begin Monday, with games set to start Sept. 21. Golf and girls’ tennis will start competition Sept. 3 and Sept. 8, respectively.
Heat acclimatization for football will start Sept. 14. Practices will begin Sept. 21, and the first games will be held Oct. 2.
“It looks like Oct. 2 we’re going to be lining up against somebody else, and that’s going to be a beautiful thing,” Central Bucks West football coach Rob Rowan said.
Truman football coach Ben Johnson said the district will meet Monday to re-assess its early decision to postpone fall sports. Springfield athletic director Joe Ferraro said the district’s Board of School Directors would meet Tuesday to vote on the status of fall sports.
SOL president Tim Donovan, the principal at Central Bucks West, said committees will be formed to finalize schedules as well as game-day procedures and the criterion for determining conference and division champions.
The PIAA, which has announced its intention to move forward with sponsoring fall sports, has said it has not yet determined whether there will be district or state playoffs.
“With COVID, this is obviously a very fluid process,” Donovan said. “With scheduling, we have to look at a multitude of factors and variables with each individual school’s circumstances.”
The SOL’s decision to move forward stands in contrast to the steps taken recently by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which pulled its 17 high schools out of fall sports, effectively shutting down the Philadelphia Catholic League, as well the Philadelphia Public League, Inter-Ac League, Del Val League, Central League and Friends Schools League, all of which have voted to postpone competition.
Rowan said that he was “ecstatic” for his players and that it was vitally important for schools to offer extracurricular activities for students.
“Everybody knows the physical component of COVID,” Rowan said. “But the area that has been highly neglected has been the risk to the mental and emotional well-being of these kids.