Rome Free Academy football and indoor track and field programs, whose schedules were altered due to COVID-19, have been approved by the Board of Education along with varsity and junior varsity coaches for football plus varsity coaches for boys and girls indoor track.
The board approvals at its meeting Thursday night also noted that final salaries for the coaches are still to be determined. The coaching appointments are all effective March 1.
Football is scheduled to start March 8 in the Tri-Valley League, school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake said during the meeting prior to the board’s votes. The process after board approval would include the district submitting its plan for football today to the county for approval, he explained.
“Hopefully by the end of next week, the county will be able to provide us with approval for football” so the district will be able to get up and running with it, Blake commented. He said Wednesday that some training for football is set to begin Monday.
Among the coaching appointments:
Charles “Jake” DerCola, varsity football coach; Billie Mays, varsity football assistant coach; Dante Mezza, varsity football assistant coach; Bryce Baldwin, varsity football assistant coach;
Jacob Crawford, junior varsity football coach; Aleksander Vernold, junior varsity football assistant coach; Edward Reynolds, junior varsity football assistant coach;
Brett Couchman, girls varsity indoor track coach; Timothy Hoffman, varsity indoor track coach; Theodore Swavely, boys/girls asst. indoor track coach.
Football is considered a high-risk sport during the pandemic; the interscholastic football season, normally in the fall, was pushed back by the Section III Athletic Council to a season that would begin in March.
Indoor track and field is usually part of the winter sports season, but was revised. Blake said it is not necessarily considered high-risk, but was included in the board approvals so people would be aware it was proceeding. He also noted it would “be largely held outside.”
Earlier in the meeting, board Vice President Tanya Davis asked about preparing the turf at RFA Stadium for football, in light of the snow. The stadium includes new turf for football, as well as a new track surface; both were installed last year.
“We’re waiting for the snow to melt,” said school district Director of Facilities Alex Rodriguez. He explained the vendor that installed the turf offered to remove the snow. But Rodriguez pointed out “an entirely different vendor installed the track surface” which borders the turf field, and there was no agreement for absorbing the cost if the track surface warranty was voided by plowing snow onto it. Even if snow removal were handled in-house, he said, “you also run the risk of voiding that warranty. It’s very easy to damage those surfaces.”
Davis asked where football players would be practicing. Rodriguez said he was not sure. He said he asked district Athletic Director Michael Stamboly about the plowing service offered, and Stamboly said “exactly what I said about the track warranty.” He said he believed Stamboly’s plan was “to wait and maybe use another space,” but Rodriguez did not know specifically.