HOOSICK FALLS — High risk sports are back at Hoosick Falls. For the athletes and coaches, the return of sports brings a sigh of relief.
“It was kind of a roller coaster there for awhile and the rollercoaster got even wilder the last couple weeks,” Panthers basketball coach Mike Lilac said. “And then they finally get in the gym, I mean there’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement.”
After months of waiting, the New York State Department of Health updated its guidance on Jan. 22 allowing practices to begin on Feb. 1 for all winter sports.
Games were pending local health authorities approval. Rensselaer County gave the green light one week later, on Jan. 29.
By Feb. 2, Hoosick Falls made the decision to opt-out of winter high-risk sports as a school.
“After very careful consideration, we have determined that we cannot safely allow high-risk sports competitions for the winter season at Hoosick Falls Central School District,” a letter signed by school superintendent Patrick Dailey read regarding the decision.
Hoosick Falls reversed its decision on Feb. 11, allowing high-risk sports to get going.
The atmosphere when the boys basketball team held its first official practice on Feb. 12 rivaled a playoff game, according to Hoosick Falls junior Dylon Baker.
“This gym had so much energy, it was like we’re going to the sectional finals or something. It was crazy.”
There are still some questions on how many games the Panthers will be able to play, but according to Lilac, whatever comes of this unprecedented season will be a success.
“Be thankful for whatever we get, whether it’s eight, nine, 10, 11 games,” Lilac said. “Whatever we get, be grateful for that and just play for the love of the game.”
Hoosick Falls has no seniors, so a shortened season will give the team some varsity experience.
“You can use this to build on for next year and in hopes that next year it could be back to more of a normal situation,” Lilac said.
Lilac coaches year round for Hoosick Falls, he also serves as the varsity baseball coach and in the fall serves as an assistant for the football team. His coaching career spans nearly 30 years. After almost a full calendar year away from coaching, Lilac is happy to get back into it.
“Something that you think is like your life calling and all of a sudden have it taken away, you appreciate it more,” Lilac said. “Just really thankful that it started back up, because as coaches that’s kind of your calling: To affect kids lives. So, glad to be back into it.”