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Push from lawmakers gives coaches hope for reinstatement of all sports

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(WBNG) -- Last week, state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt introduced legislation to bring back all interscholastic competition in New York. Now, local coaches say the push from lawmakers is giving them additional hope.

The winter season began January 4. Low and moderate risk sports were given the green light, while high-risk sports remain on hold.

“At this point you want to do whatever you can to help, mainly for the kids to just get through this and be able to manage at least part of a season,” said Chenango Forks athletic director and football coach Dave Hogan.  

High-risk sports include basketball, competitive cheer, wrestling, ice hockey, volleyball, football, and boys lacrosse. With the hiatus, some athletes have gone over one year without playing their sport.

“As educators, we're seeing some of the things that are happening in schools and how kids are feeling now with this long layoff," said Maine-Endwell football coach Matt Gallagher."

"The longer you're with them you feel bad for them and all the other sports teams who aren't able to play too," said Hogan.

With a number of lawmakers across the state backing Schmitt's proposed legislation, Hogan and Gallagher said they’re hoping for an answer soon.   

"Now we're not just writing letters to them, they're writing letters for us too," said Gallagher. "That's kind of building momentum."

The push doesn't stop here. Corning senior athlete Ryan Hughes started the "Let Us Play NY" campaign on social media to spread the voice of student-athletes. 

“I feel like that hits harder,” said Hughes. “It's the current high school athletes expressing how much they want to play this year and how much it means to them.”  

Corning football coach George Bacallas, along with Gallagher and Hogan said after seeing other nearby states playing safely it’s time for New York to try to do the same. 

“I think now we need to take a look at what are the ways we can provide a safe environment for all of these student-athletes,” said Bacallas. 

The coaches agreed they’ll do whatever it takes and follow every guideline the state requires. 

“We don't want to do anything foolish,” said Hogan. “We want to do safely. We don't want anybody to get sick. We only want what's best for the kids.”

As coaches they hope with guidance from the state and local health departments, they’ll have the chance to prove their teams can play safely. 

"We know we can," said Bacallas. "We're ready when they give it to us."

The "fall" sports season is slated to begin early March.

Robyn Hearn

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