NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — As a dad, Stephen Nesbit knows how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been for youngsters.
As an officer in the North Adams Soccer Club, he can do something about it.
"I'm a father, I have a 9-year-old and a 16-year-old," Nesbit said on Thursday morning. "Kids have been trapped in the house since March. They want to get out and run around with their friends. We're giving them a responsible option for that."
The NASC and its corresponding youth groups throughout the county are working to put together competitive opportunities for players of all ages, up to and including high schoolers, who likely will not have the chance to represent their schools in varsity games this fall.
Under the auspices of the Berkshire County Youth Soccer League, organizers are hoping to get as many as 11 boys and girls high school-aged teams on the pitch for an abbreviated season of Sunday games.
For high school students at schools that are offering practice-only soccer programs this fall, the county league will offer the possibility of some competition on the side. And for kids in districts that are not offering the sport until at least the MIAA's "Fall 2" season in March, the youth programs will give them their only opportunity to get out and work on their skills.
The intent is not to make students choose either high school or "travel" sports, explained Matt Naventi, the president of BCYSL who also happens to coach the varsity boys at Monument Mountain.
"It's certainly a collaboration," Naventi said. "They're not choosing one over the other."
Nesbit said the youth leagues were watching closely what the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association decided about the 2020-21 sports calendar and how local districts reacted before moving forward with a plan.
With all the county's schools appearing to hold off on competitive soccer until at least the Fall 2 season, the BCYSL decided to fill the gap.
And its member leagues helped fill other gaps, Naventi said. With the Pittsfield Soccer Club opting not to have a fall season, the Williamstown Soccer Club and Lenox Youth Football Club have stepped in to make sure players from the city had the opportunity to register and be covered by insurance.
"I give a lot of credit to the clubs around the county for being willing and open-minded about how we approach the season," Naventi said. "We're looking to be as flexible as we possibly can and facilitate as many kids as we can."
And it will do so while implementing the modifications mandated by the state for safe play of soccer, classified as a "moderate risk" sport for the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"They have done a tremendous job of coming up with safety protocols and modifications to the rules of the game to make the game as safe as possible during this period of time we're living in," he said.
Naventi said there will be a countywide coaching meeting next week to go over the new rules.
"I think the lower down you go in the youth levels, the easier, in a way, it will be," he said. "There's not a tremendous amount of contact anyway [in younger age groups]. You can't head the ball in under-10 or under-12 in Berkshire County. The big one will be not picking up the ball, not touching it.
"That will be an added responsibility of coaches to not train the way you typically do the first week of practice but use that time to get the new rules in place."
Naventi said the BCYSL will hold U10 and U14 games on Saturdays this fall and U12 and high school games on Sunday.
It also is changing up its schedule for the younger age groups. Instead of playing a countywide schedule against six or seven opponents, the teams will be grouped into north and south regions and play each opponent in their divisions twice.
The high school teams will be divided into "North" and "South" divisions that mirror those used in the Berkshire County high school league, which breaks up schools into divisions that seek competitive balance, rather than geographic alignment.
Another big change in the scheduling this fall: None of the games will come in the form of the big youth tournaments that typically highlight the county's youth soccer schedule.
Nesbit says the pent-up demand for recreation in the pandemic has led to an uptick in registration for the youth program. He said the North Adams club is extending registration for its programs until the season is underway to make sure everyone gets a chance to sign up.
"There are a lot of good soccer players in North Adams, Williamstown and Adams," Nesbit said. "We want them to be able to get out and play if they can."
Register for the North Adams Soccer Club here. Find information on other youth programs throughout the county here.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Stockbridge-Munsee Community Reclaims Some of Its History
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
A World War II-era mural of Ephraim Wiliams and Mohawk leader Theyanoguin is being removed from the Log to Special Collections as part of the college's examination of its history and relationship with the area and community.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — More than two centuries after they were displaced from lands now known as Berkshire County, the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians are coming back to the Berkshires.
Last week, the president of Williams College announced to the school community that the college will provide office space to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community's Tribal Historic Preservation Extension Office.
The community's director of cultural affairs said this week that the group is relocating its current regional office from Troy, N.Y., east to Williamstown as part of a plan to create a stronger partnership with the liberal arts college.
"The goal is to help form a relationship with the college, not just through historic preservation, but there are programs at Williams like Native American studies and archaeology programs that we'd love to be a part of," Heather Bruegl said from her office in Bowler, Wis., site of the headquarters for the Stockbridge-Munsee Band.
Last week, the president of Williams College announced to the school community that the college will provide office space to the Stockbridge-Munsee Community’s Tribal Historic Preservation Extension Office.
click for more
Appearing with Baker at his regular press availability, Riley twice declined to say what enforcement actions the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will take against more than a dozen districts who last week received a letter challenging their preference for remote learning to start... click for more
In all, there are four School Committee seats up for grabs in November. One, the lone seat for a Lanesborough resident up for election this cycle, has a single candidate, Michelle Johnson, running unopposed for a four-year term.
click for more
The Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee on Monday discussed a statement of principles to guide the group's work as it seeks to work for justice in the college town of 7,700. click for more
When Williamstown Elementary School began the school year with remote instruction last week, the youth center was able to host 20 kids who attended their Zoom-based classes under the watchful eye of WYC staff.
click for more