HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Local high school athletic directors and coaches are reacting after hearing Governor Tom Wolf give a ‘strong’ recommendation to suspend youth sports until January 2021.
The initial statement caused a lot of confusion among staff but no one was particularly surprised to hear the recommendation come down Thursday.
“We found out about it probably within five minutes after the governor’s statement was made,” Fred Barletta, Hazleton Area School District Athletic Director said.
Barletta says the news broke when he and 26 other athletic directors were meeting.
“Ironically we had a Wyoming Valley Conference Athletic Directors meeting scheduled for 11 so this news broke 10 to 15 minutes prior to the meeting,” he said.
While the directors were surprised to hear the governor recommend the suspension of all sports, Barletta says they understand the situation. The Hazleton Area School District is the largest district in northeastern Pennsylvania with nearly 400 student athletes being members of eight teams that play during the fall.
Barletta insists it’s all about safety.
“Look we are all sports people and I don’t care if it’s from the professional sports down to scholastic sports people would like to see these things take place,” Barletta said. “I agree with that I would as well but the issue obviously is you have to take the safety, health concerns of everybody involved first.”
Allan Pecora coaches cross country for Holy Family Academy, an elementary school in the Hazleton Area. He’s disappointed but agrees with common sense decisions.
“We try to be safe for our kids. Still I’m a parent so we just have to be careful use common sense pretty much, move to safe distance,” Pecora said.
Many of the fall sports teams like football were previously set to begin formal practices in the coming days.