Break for athletes this summer

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The West Milford Board of Education approved a nine-day “no contact period” by coaching personnel for any of their sport offerings on or off campus from Saturday, Aug. 2, to Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, as per a Big North Conference ruling.

The ruling by the Big North Conference states that member schools must have a no-contact period for nine consecutive days between the dates of June 9 and Aug. 11. According to district representatives, the no-contact conference rule was approved by member athletic directors in recognition of the recent trend of having a year-round sports schedule, with no time off for students and their families. Failure to comply could result in suspension of coaches, forfeiture of games, ineligibility for awards, and championship disqualification.

"Our conference has made the move to sort of turn the lights off on all activity in the summertime," said Greg Bailey, West Milford Board of Education trustee. "Sports have become such a run-on thing that there's a movement statewide to kind of pull the plug on all contact between student athletes and coaches so they have a chance to go on vacation with their family. It's very interesting and relatively historic."

Bailey said no doubt some students will opt to train on their own, but school coaching staff is prohibited from taking part in even off-campus training sessions during the no-contact period, including strength/conditioning workouts in the weight room. The West Milford Football Booster Club recently donated $13,000 for new workout equipment for the high school weight room, which will be closed during the nine-day “no-contact” period.

"There's so much of this year-round training," Bailey said. "In the good old days, when baseball was over, we didn't start doing football until August. But now there's a bunch of stuff that goes on in the summer for all sports."

Athletic directors of member schools are to report violations of the new no-contact period policy to the conference Executive Committee.

- Patricia Keller

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