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TVL institutes pods for athletics

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

The Tri-Valley League announced news in regards to its game scheduling this past week for the upcoming "Fall I" athletic season.

The conference's 12 athletic directors voted to realign into two pods, with each holding six schools. Pod I will include the teams from the western area of the TVL: Ashland, Bellingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Norton, Medway and Norton. Pod II will include the eastern teams: Dover-Sherborn, Dedham, Medfield, Millis, Norwood and Westwood.

"We were kicking around different ideas to comply with the modifications being made to high school athletics," said Medfield athletic director Eric Scott on the decision. "We wanted to try and cut down on contact points and interactions. A lot of parents are going to be driving kids to games instead of putting them on a bus, so we wanted to limit the amount of traveling that families will have to do on game day. We obviously want to get through the season and we figured by doing the pods then that would give us the best change at having limited interactions per school for the week. If the pods were smaller, say only four teams, then one school being forced to cancel classes and athletics due to COVID would also force those schools in their pod to play into a very limited schedule against the same team or teams. We just wanted to give kids an opportunity to play and participate in the safest manner possible."

In the past, TVL schools have scheduled matchups of boys teams to co-exist with matchups of girls teams. If two boys teams are playing in one town, the girls teams are almost always playing one another in the other town. This concept will continue this fall, but the schedules will be a little more condensed with all games being played on the same day. The sports being played throughout the next several months will include boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross-country, golf, tennis and field hockey.

"On Saturday, we have our first game-day against Westwood, so we will host JV and varsity girls soccer, JV and varsity field hockey; while boys JV and varsity soccer, as well as cross-country, will go to Westwood," said Scott. "This way, we are only playing one opponent per week in case there's a need for contact tracing. We felt this was the safest way to do things."

Rivalries such as Westwood/Medfield, Medfield/DS, Westwood/Norwood and Norwood/Dedham will be keep alive for Fall I, thanks to this realignment. Rivalries such as Westwood/Holliston will be put on hold until 2021.

Fall I sports for Pod II will begin this upcoming week.

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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