UNIONTOWN, Pa. (KDKA) — The Uniontown Area High School football and soccer teams were back on the field this week after the school board reversed its decision to cancel their seasons.
In early August, the school board unanimously voted to cancel football and soccer, both contact sports, after Governor Tom Wolf’s recommendation that schools beginning the year online cancel fall sports. Classes within the Uniontown Area School District are online for the first nine weeks.
“For the kids’ sake, I wanted them to play. But when the district said this is the direction we’re going in, I agreed with that,” said Uniontown football coach Cedric Lloyd.
Once the PIAA gave the green light for fall sports, Uniontown Area Superintendent Charles Machesky said the high school was the only WPIAL school to cancel. The board ultimately changed its mind, voting on Aug. 28 to allow football and soccer to play.
“Following a review of the local teams without any reported cases of the virus and the fact that we were the only school in the WPIAL not playing, we believed the students that expressed an interest in playing should be provided the opportunity,” Machesky wrote to KDKA.
For over three weeks, seniors on the football and soccer teams thought they had played their final games.
“Kind of bummed out that for my senior year, I played five, six years here and I didn’t get to play my last year,” said Aidan Shetterly, a senior on the Uniontown boys soccer team.
When the district announced the change, physicals for high school athletes were the next day and teams were back on the field by Monday.
“I was jumping up and down,” said Dakota Burkholder, a senior on the Uniontown football team. “I was so happy. It was really exciting.”
Recently, Governor Wolf updated his guidance to allow fans at sporting events, as long as they stay within the gathering limits. Up to 250 people are allowed at outdoor events, while 25 people are allowed at indoor events.
The limitations on indoor gatherings will still make having fans at events like volleyball matches difficult.
Still, with restrictions on fans and safety measures in place, the student-athletes are just grateful to have a season that almost didn’t happen.
“It’s honestly just the memories,” said Brett Dolfi, a senior on the Uniontown soccer team. “I’ve had a great time every year I’ve been here so to me, it’s just the friends.”