Times Area high schools have adopted spectator plans for the 2020 fall season that could allow parents to see their children play.
Bermudian Springs, Biglerville, Delone Catholic, Fairfield, Gettysburg, Littlestown and New Oxford recently revealed admission policies for outdoor events, which are limited to 250 people per Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID restrictions. Each policy contains unique components, but all schools are giving their athletes passes that can be used to attend sport-specific home events. Spectators will not be permitted to attend away contests.
Concessions will not be available at any contests and all spectators are required to follow social distancing and face covering guidelines. There will be no charge at the game for spectators with appropriate passes, and no admission for those without sport-specific passes.
Spectators are not permitted for girls’ volleyball, which is hamstrung by Wolf’s 25-person capacity limit for indoor events. Athletic directors have been forced to find creative ways to allow teams to bring full rosters and how to handle match play.
“With only 25 it’s going to be interesting making substitutions from the hallway,” said Delone Catholic athletic director Tim Bonitz.
To combat spectator limitations schools have developed live streaming plans that will allow them to reach greater audiences with games and athletic events. In addition to posting streaming links on their respective websites, school links will also be on yaiaa.com as they become available. Events that are streamed will be archived as well.
Schools using a YouTube channel for streaming purposes are required to gain 1,000 subscribers. Some schools have begun streaming girls’ tennis matches and will continue to refine production as the fall season unfolds.
“We’re going to give it our best shot and provide as many opportunities for folks to watch all types of events,” said New Oxford athletic director Doug Wherley.
Spectator policy: Each fall athlete, band member, cheerleader and student trainer will receive two passes for home events. For football games, the Bermudian band will occupy a section of the bleachers while maintaining social distancing.
Livestreaming: Links to football, soccer, field hockey, volleyball and girls’ tennis events will be on the Bermudian Springs website.
“Our student body isn’t going to be here to see their classmates play so we wanted to give them an avenue to see the game,” said Bermudian AD Dave Orwig. “That’s the whole concept.
“We’re sympathetic to the people who would like to watch the games, whether they’re parents or just fans of high school sports. We’ve made a pretty significant investment to bring live streaming to our public and other communities. If we ever get back to normal I think having this streaming equipment opens up some different avenues for other organizations in the school.”
Spectator policy: Fall athletes will receive two passes for home events. Band members and cheerleaders will also receive two passes for football games. Passes are sport specific and will not be valid at other home events. Spectator areas will be marked for seating and all spectators must adhere to social distancing and face covering guidelines.
Livestreaming: Biglerville has not yet implemented a livestream plan but athletic director Anthony Graham said the school expects to have streaming capabilities and a schedule in place in the near future.
“We are currently investigating streaming options with a YouTube platform and working toward having a YouTube channel,” he said.
Spectator policy: For football, senior players, band members and cheerleaders may purchase two tickets at the school’s main office Tuesday through Thursday the week of the game at a cost of $5 per ticket.
For additional events held at JT Flaherty Field including JV football, junior high football and senior night games for soccer and field hockey, four tickets will be available per participant.
There are no restrictions on attendance for games played on Delone’s field hockey or soccer fields. Fans are required to bring lawn chairs as no bleachers will be provided.
Livestreaming: Delone plans to stream volleyball matches and all events that take place on Flaherty Field. Since 2010, Delone has been streaming athletic events on its Delone Catholic Broadcast Network.
“Thankfully we’re not starting from scratch,” said Bonitz. “Our community is used to the quality that they produce, and we’re excited about having them what they provide to our viewership.”
Spectator policy: Each fall athlete will receive three athletic passes which are sport specific. Like other county schools, Fairfield will only use the home bleachers for events in its stadium and spectators will be spaced apart with designated seating.
For soccer, Fairfield has coupled its boys’ and girls’ games to create doubleheaders on the same night. Athletic director Crystal Heller said the first game will be played with its fans, then the stadium will be cleared prior to admitting players, coaches and spectators for the second game.
Livestreaming: Fairfield planned to use Pixellot as its platform but a recent surge of schools seeking Pixellot’s services has led to a YouTube option.
“That is still a work in progress,” said Heller of the Pixellot option. “We can do it via laptops and camcorders, the same as we do for graduation and board meetings.”
Heller said streaming field hockey games would be challenging because of internet access but the school was working on creating a hot spot.
“We know how important it is for fans to be there,” she said. “We wanted to make sure people were seeing the good things our kids are doing and talk about it in the community. “They may not be able to be there but they’ll be able to watch what our kids are doing.”
Additionally, a radio team from WTHU 1450 AM plans to broadcast home football games.
Spectator policy: Each fall athlete and cheerleader will receive two athletic passes. Band members will also receive two passes and will perform at 6:30 on the night of home varsity football games. Following the performance, the band and its spectators will leave Warrior Stadium, allowing football and cheerleading parents to enter.
Livestreaming: Gettysburg has created a pair of YouTube channels to provide maximum coverage of events.
“Our tech department and Kasey Smith have been absolute rock stars in getting this together and taking care of equipment,” said Getysburg AD Casey Thurston. “We’ll use professional equipment as well as mobile devices.”
Thurston said students in Gettysburg’s media center have been involved and will continue to help as the school takes a look at long-term streaming options.
Spectator policy: Senior and junior members of the varsity football and cheer teams will receive two tickets. Members of all other athletic and cheer teams – including junior high — will receive two tickets for their specific activity. Band members will receive two tickets for non-football events.
Livestreaming: Littlestown is using sportsscopelive.com as its streaming platform. Fans will find links to Thunderbolt events on the site, where they can access livestreams. There is a $5 charge per event, according to Littlestown AD Jeff Laux.
Spectator policy: Senior varsity football players and cheerleaders will receive two passes, with underclassmen likely to receive one pass, according to Wherley.
“We’re still trying to navigate the exact number,” he said. “Hopefully it will be two for everyone, but our football numbers are bigger.”
All other fall sport athletes, including junior high, will receive two passes.
The New Oxford band will perform prior to home football games then exit the stadium. Band parents will not be in attendance for those performances but can attend the four virtual competitions that will be recorded in the football stadium on Saturdays.
Livestreaming: New Oxford has already secured more than 1,000 subscribers for its YouTube channel.
“I’m very happy and hopeful for our kids to have the opportunity to compete,” he said. “They’ve done a great job abiding by the guidelines and I’m hoping it allows us to continue moving forward and have a full season. It’s a day to day thing but we’ll attack one thing at a time and adjust. Safety is No. 1 and No. 2 is allowing the kids to compete.”