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Ithaca Joins IAC for High-Risk Winter Sports

Thanks to a partnership with the Interscholastic Athletic Conference (IAC), Ithaca’s Little Red basketball and wrestling teams will have an opportunity to compete against other school districts in Tompkins County during this year’s winter sports condensed season.

On January 22, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that sports designated as high-risk, including basketball, wrestling, and ice hockey, could resume play with clearance from county health departments. The Ithaca City School District (ICSD) typically competes in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference (STAC) and is the only district in Tompkins County to do so. By joining the IAC, the Little Red basketball and wrestling teams will be able to compete against neighboring opponents from within Tompkins County, including Dryden, Groton, Lansing, Newfield, and Trumansburg. 

“We are excited that we have been given clearance to begin high-risk winter sports,” ICSD Director of Athletics and Wellness Samantha Little said. “The complexities associated with providing a safe and competitive environment for our students and coaches have been resolved due to the collaborative efforts of STAC and the IAC. While our participation in the IAC for high-risk winter sports is a product of our current times, we are grateful.”

Ithaca’s move to the IAC does not pertain to its ice hockey teams. Unlike basketball and wrestling, ice hockey, which is also designated as high-risk, is not a conference sport and falls under the purview of Section IV, a separate governing body from STAC. 

As for other winter sports, those designated as low- or moderate-risk were permitted to resume play earlier this month. The Little Red alpine ski and boys swim and dive teams began their seasons on January 4 and continue to practice and compete, and the Unified Bowling team is scheduled to begin in early February with in-person practices and virtual matches. Ithaca’s indoor track and field and competitive cheer teams have been engaging in virtual training since early January. 

Practices for high-risk winter sports were cleared to begin in the first week of February, and the IAC has scheduled games for February 10 through March 5. Ithaca has not yet decided whether it will continue to participate in the IAC for high-risk sports during the fall sports condensed season, which begins on March 1, or the spring sports condensed season, which begins on April 19, and will reassess before the start of each.

“ICSD Athletics wants to acknowledge and share our gratitude for the STAC and IAC superintendents and athletics directors, as well as Bill Bryant, IAC Executive Director, and Kevin McGoff, STAC Executive Director,” Little said. “Through their leadership, a student-centered and community-minded approach has evolved. This collaboration benefits all of us now and into the future, and demonstrates what the word ‘community’ means. We appreciate our students’ and families’ continued support and patience as we navigate such opportunities. Thank you to our coaches for their commitment and ‘whatever it takes’ values in support of our students.”