Student athletes on the North Shore of Massachusetts rallied Friday to save their fall sports seasons.
Their protest in downtown Danvers came after the Northeastern Conference decided to postpone all fall sports due to COVID-19.
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The conference is made up of 12 communities including Peabody, Swampscott and Danvers. On Monday, the NEC voted to postpone fall sports to the "Fall II" season, which does not start until February.
"I don't know how we are supposed to play then because the fields will just be snow and ice," Grace Brinkley, a field hockey player at Danvers High School said.
The delay is especially hard on senior student athletes trying to be recruited.
"A lot of people are still trying to commit to schools. We can't wait until February to start talking to schools," Lauren Hanson, a soccer player at Masconomet Regional High School said.
The principals voted 9-3 in favor of the change. They said more time is needed to ensure proper safeguards and 5 of the 12 schools are in designated red zone communities, which would keep them from being able to participate. Since the vote, only two of the communities remain in the red zone.
The league said more details will be coming. Schools are in the process of coming up with a flex plan that would allow students to practice even if they cannot play games. Students hope officials can reach a compromise that does not keep all of them sidelined.
"Every kid needs this. It's not a want. It's a need," Cally McSweeney, a field hockey player at Masconomet Regional High School said. "It's really emotional for us to even think about not being able to play and I hope school officials listen."