Highlands postpones winter sports until January

Tuesday, November 24, 2020 | 9:33 PM

Around the WPIAL, schools have delayed the start of winter sports season.

Whereas teams were set to begin practice last Friday, some schools pushed their start dates to Dec. 7. On Monday, the Highlands School District announced it was postponing winter sports until Jan. 15, though athletic director Drew Karpen said the school is hoping to return sooner.

“We are hoping as soon as possible,” Karpen said in an email. “Ideally, we would like to get back prior to the Jan. 15 date.”

In a letter from superintendent Monique Mawhinney on Monday, the school district announced it would be transitioning to full remote learning from Dec. 1 through Jan. 15.

“It was not an easy decision at all,” Karpen wrote. “After reviewing the state and county COVID data and the current number of positive COVID cases in the district, the task force made the difficult decision to transition to full remote learning for all students.”

The postponement surely will disappoint Highlands’ teams, including the boys basketball team, which was preparing to defend its WPIAL Class 4A title.

Although he said he understood the decision, coach Tyler Stoczynski said it was unwelcome news.

“As a coach and someone who is also a part of a district, I try to keep an open mind and try to understand there are two sides to a story,” Stoczynski said. “I just hope both sides have the opportunity to be presented in full. If that was the decision they made, so be it. But I also hope there is an option to revisit or come to some kind of compromise to work with our students so they’re not left with nothing.”

PIAA rules require basketball teams practice at least 15 times before participating in games.

A Jan. 15 return date wouldn’t give the Golden Rams much time to get games in. Last season, they played their final regular-season game Feb. 7.

Stoczynski said he was willing to do whatever it took to see that his players were able to have some type of season.

“When it really comes down to it, that’s what this is about,” Stoczynski said. “It’s not about anything else other than giving our kids an opportunity to play for what they’ve been putting hard work and time into since last season ended.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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