Ath­letes speak out over loss of games

Heat-re­lated school clos­ings wreak havoc on prac­tices, sched­ules in Balto. County

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Kather­ine Dunn kather­ine.dunn@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ kdunnsun

Six­teen Du­laney stu­dent-ath­letes, frus­trated over the loss of games and prac­tice time this week af­ter the clo­sure of schools with­out air con­di­tion­ing, went to Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Schools head­quar­ters in Tow­son on Fri­day af­ter­noon to try to meet with Su­per­in­ten­dent Dal­las Dance.

Dance wasn’t there, but they met in­stead with his chief of staff, Michele Prumo.

The Du­laney ath­letes — from the field hockey, girls soc­cer, golf and cross coun­try teams — could not un­der­stand why they, and ath­letes from the county’s six other non-air-con­di­tioned schools that were closed Thurs­day and Fri­day, could not prac­tice or play games while ath­letes from the other 17 high schools could.

The field hockey team had been hold­ing daily prac­tices led by its cap­tains, and mem­bers wanted to know why they couldn’t play this week­end. Their game tonight against West­min­ster at Johns Hop­kins’ Home­wood Field will be resched­uled, but not at Johns Hop­kins.

Prumo told them the de­ci­sion was based on safety. Be­cause not all county stu­den­tath­letes could make it to prac­tice this week, county schools of­fi­cials didn’t want to risk any­one’s health by putting them back onto the field to­day, when the heat in­dex is ex­pected to be high again.

Of­fi­cials, she said, try to be fair to ath­letes at all of the high schools that are closed be­cause of a lack of air con­di­tion­ing — Du­laney, Ken­wood, Franklin, Lans­downe, Wood­lawn, Pat­ap­sco and Over­lea.

“The best ex­pla­na­tion we got from her,” field hockey player Emma Klein said, “was that it’s like a full sys­tem of schools, so if one school doesn’t have kids that can get trans­porta­tion to their prac­tices, then no one else can prac­tice.”

Still, Klein said, there’s a “weird dis­con­nect” that the other 17 high schools in the county can prac­tice while they can’t.

“It’s frus­trat­ing to know that other teams are out there get­ting a huge ad­van­tage over us,” field hockey player Ki­ley Bolonda said.

Cross coun­try run­ner Con­trell Goode works out on his own but said that’s not the same as run­ning un­der coaches’ su­per­vi­sion. “You want to build up stamina, and since we’re not prac­tic­ing, I’m not build­ing up enough stamina,” he said. “When I’m go­ing against other peo­ple [in meets], they’re trained bet­ter than me.”

Mike Sye, co­or­di­na­tor of ath­let­ics in Bal­ti­more County, said teams will be able to prac­tice to­day, though they have to be fin­ished by 11 a.m.

In Bal­ti­more City, there were no games or prac­tices Thurs­day or Fri­day, when schools closed early be­cause of the heat, so schools of­fi­cials can­celed to­day’s games. Foot­ball games will be made up at 2:30 p.m. Mon­day.

In Bal­ti­more County, all six foot­ball games in­volv­ing teams from non-air-con­di­tioned schools have been can­celed and will not be made up. Most games in other sports can be made up be­cause of the sched­ul­ing flex­i­bil­ity for teams that play more than once a week. Teams play­ing in tour­na­ments, how­ever, will lose those games.

Games in the county can­not be made up Mon­day be­cause teams are not al­lowed to prac­tice or play on the Mus­lim holy day Eid al-Adha, which be­gins at sun­down.

Fri­day was the fourth day the county’s non-air-con­di­tioned schools have been closed in the first 13 days of the school year. Un­der a new county pol­icy, those schools are closed when the heat in­dex is fore­cast to reach 90 de­grees by 11 a.m.

Frus­tra­tion among ath­letes and par­ents has con­tin­ued to grow as their teams sit idle while oth­ers around the county con­tinue to prac­tice and play.

Foot­ball teams likely have the most to lose, be­cause only four teams make the play­offs in each re­gion. The af­fected teams now have a nine-game sched­ule rather than a 10-game slate. Al­though changes can be made to the sport’s scor­ing sys­tem to make it more eq­ui­table, bonus points awarded for wins over suc­cess­ful teams can help clinch a play­off berth.

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