New Hampshire

Many NH Schools Gear Up for Full-Contact Football Practices

When the Sanborn School District's football season begins Sept. 8, players will wear masks until they're in active play, equipment will be sanitized and jerseys will be washed every day

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While some districts are still finalizing fall sports plans, many schools in New Hampshire are gearing up for full-contact football practices to start next week.

At Sanborn Regional High School, Connor Fitzgerald and his teammates have been training all summer. It's a good thing because their season starts on Sept. 8.

"It's going to be like a dream come true," the junior told NBC10 Boston Thursday.

The Sanborn School District is in a fully remote learning model to start the year, but still, the school board recently gave the go-ahead for full-contact sports.

"I was pretty surprised but pleasantly surprised," said Sanborn Athletic Director Bob Dawson.

Dawson said most districts across the state are also playing football so the challenge is the game schedule.

In an effort to limit travel and exposure, districts are trying to play within a regional bubble of fewer than 25 miles.

"The idea is to put our games where we play the same team over one weekend," Dawson explained. "So, if either school has issues with COVID, it's contained just with those two schools as much as we can."

During practices, Coach Josh White said players will wear masks until they're in active play, equipment will be sanitized and jerseys washed every day. There will be no shared water bottles or common benches, and they'll keep their distance whenever possible.

"They know how serious it is and they know that to play this game. You have to be safe both inside and outside of just the football field, and I think they're doing that," White said.

Fitzgerald said he and his teammates are taking all of the precautions they can.

"Because we don't want to risk not having a season this year, so everything the coaches say, we will listen to 100%,” he said.

But still, playing amid a global pandemic is risky.

"I'm really worried about it," Dawson said.

And that's because, for him, it's personal.

"I've told the kids, I've lost people close to me, and I'm not going to risk that with them," Dawson said.

Another way Sanborn is trying to keep everyone safe is limiting spectators to no one other than the players' parents.

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