NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After one of the most successful fall seasons in Redbank Valley School history with the football team, girls’ soccer team, and girls’ volleyball team all winning District 9 titles and the football and volleyball teams winning PIAA first-round contests, the athletes may not get that opportunity to duplicate the feat in the winter after the school board voted Monday to go to remote learning through at least Jan. 6 with no sports practices until at least Jan. 6.
The decision to not allow sports practices until Jan. 6 means that the first possible play date for the Bulldogs boys’ and girls’ basketball teams and wrestling team wouldn’t be until Jan. 23 because of the need for 15 practices before playing a game and the fact you can only practice up to six times in a week. Redbank Valley is in a small minority of schools in District 9 that has not held at least one winter sports practice at this point.
That would leave approximately four weeks for Redbank Valley basketball teams to participate in the regular season before District 9 would convene its playoffs. For the 2020-21 season, the PIAA has set a Feb. 27 deadline for the end of the regular season but District 9 would need to start its playoffs by Feb. 22 or 23 with the district deadline to end the district playoffs, set by the PIAA, being March 6.
It’s worse in wrestling. The Bulldogs would be able to compete for two weeks prior to the District 9 team wrestling championships Feb. 6 and five weeks before the District 9 individual championship Feb. 26-27.
All of that is only if the district allows the athletic teams to start practicing Jan. 6, a decision that won’t actually be made until Jan. 4 when the school board meets again to discuss a return to school.
While Redbank Valley won’t even be able to start practice until Jan. 6, 17 of the 34 District 9 schools are planning on playing at least some athletics contests in the first two weeks of the season, which starts Friday, Dec. 11.