Catholic schools await decision from mayor on high risk sports

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NEW YORK — As high school athletes in Westchester and on Long Island prepare for their upcoming seasons, many athletes in the city are still waiting to find out if they’ll be allowed to play.

St. Francis Prep junior Dylan Carroll is tired of sitting on the sidelines.

“This opportunity being stripped from us is just really sad,” Carroll said.

Caroll, like every other Catholic high school athlete in Brooklyn and Queens who plays a high-risk sport, is waiting to find out if he’ll be able to play this season.

“I still have my hopes very high and I will train as if there’s a season,” he added.

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that high school sports like football, basketball and hockey could resume if the local governments signed off on it.

Director Dominick Vulpis says The Catholic High School Athletic Association sent a letter to the mayor and the city department of health looking for guidance, but they still haven’t heard anything back.

“What we’re after is an answer,” Vulpis said. “Simply just answer, can we or can we not participate in high-risk sports?”

Surrounding areas like Westchester and Long Island resumed basketball practice on Feb. 1.

Normally, those schools would compete against teams from Brooklyn and Queens.

“So now we have teams chomping at the bit in Westchester, ready to play basketball right now, ready to go and there’s nobody to play against,” Vulpis said.

Rich Carroll is Dylan’s father and the head football coach at St. Francis Prep.

“We feel like we’re not even being heard. We’re just looking for some sort of acknowledgment,” Coach Carroll said.

He feels the CHSAA has already proven they can keep kids healthy on the field: the league has had just one case of COVID-19 among all athletes who participate in low and moderate risk sports this school year.

“Take a real good look at what the pros and the cons are with these young men and these young women and take a real good look at the science and take a look at our record on the field,” he said.

St. Francis Prep Athletic Director Sal Fischetti is worried about the mental toll the uncertainty is taking on his seniors.

“If you’re taking away their entire senior year of their last sport to play in high school, it’s very sad,” Fischetti said.

We reached out to the mayor’s office for comment, but they did not immediately respond to our request. Members of the CHSAA say they’ll keep fighting until the clock runs out.

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