Athletics is an important part of school life in nearly every school community.  For many, it’s more than “just a game” on the court or on the field.  Support of the team and the players and the pride and camaraderie that comes from athletic gatherings will, like everything else this year, look different in the Diocese of Phoenix.

While Fall athletic contests have been cancelled for the Catholic Youth Athletic Association, high school sports are moving forward with some adjustments.

“The Diocese of Phoenix understands the importance of athletics as a component of the overall educational experience for many of our high school students and their families.” Interim Superintendent Domonic Salce shared his insights on athletics this fall.  “The pandemic has required additional precautions for our athletic programs for which we will progress carefully. Guided by federal, state and local health agency recommendations, as well as the Arizona Interscholastic Association, our high schools will proceed with full participation in athletics this fall. Our schools continue to focus on the health and safety of all participants.”

At Notre Dame Prep, the opening game of the season against Brophy College Prep would have drawn a large, spirited crowd.  Parents of football players, like Haley and Jonathan Fagan, new to NDP, are just happy the game is happening. “I am very excited for our son Ryan to play his first freshman football game this year,” shared Haley Fagan.  “I am thankful that 2 people per player are allowed in the stands during the game, and understand the reasons behind it, however it breaks my heart that all of his friends and family will not be there to cheer him on due to Covid19 restrictions. As a former cheerleader for Xavier, I remember the fanfare at football games well, and am hopeful that Ryan will be able to experience a packed stadium some time this season.”

So, what can we expect for winter athletics? “Winter athletics has been pushed back at least two weeks,” shared Gregg Buchanan, Athletic Director at Seton Catholic Prep, “but I imagine the protocols will be the same as Fall depending on the numbers we receive from our Health experts in the field. Proper guidance is being administered for our student-athletes’ health and safety.”

Throughout the coming year, fans attendance will be at the mercy of health department data and slowing the spread of the illness.  They will continue to cheer on the student athletes, though, even from a far in many cases, thanks to current technology.  Hopefully student athletes will find joy in playing and know that their victories continue to raise the spirits and pride of each of their respective school communities this year.