St. Croix, VI – Officials testified Friday that they are anticipating a return to normal athletic competition when school resumes this fall and are encouraging student athletes ages 12 and older to get vaccinated.
Senator Samuel Carrión, Chairman of the Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks and Recreation in the 34th Legislature, urged the Department of Education and the athletic associations to begin contacting coaches and schools to ensure that they are fully prepared for the 2021-2022 interscholastic sports season.
“My concern is getting our student athletes back out there and I don’t want to hear any excuses this fall,” Senator Carrión said. “We must be ready for a return to regular competition, while having a contingency plan in place to keep youth athletics going in the event regular games and tournaments are not possible. Our young people have missed out on far too much already.”
In a continued effort to combat the ongoing pandemic, Acting Commissioner of Education Victor Somme III said his department was encouraging students to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We strongly encourage our students 12 and up to get vaccinated, but at this time there is no local or federal mandate,” Somme III said.
During Friday’s hearing, the Committee received updates regarding student-athlete development programs, COVID-19 safety protocols, return to competitive play, and the results of the “Combine in a Bubble” and the “Honoring a Legend” initiatives.
Present testifying before the committee were Victor Somme III, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Education (DOE); Kennard Callendar, Director of the Division of Sports and Athletics (DSA) within the DOE; Bernalyn Tomeau, DSA Program Assistant for St. Thomas and St. John; Marisha Butcher, DSA Program Assistant for St. Croix; Attorney Hudson from the Department of Education; Renee Hansen, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation for St. Croix; Vincent Roberts, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation for St. Thomas and St. John; Lecia Richmond, Executive Secretary of the Interscholastic Athletic Association for the St. Thomas-St. John district; and Lucille Hobson, President of the Interscholastic Athletic Association for the St. Croix district.
“Today’s hearing covered many important matters relating to the state of sports and our student-athletes,” Senator Carrión said. “However, I am expecting some changes going forward – better collaboration between the departments and associations and a greater effort in building our student-athlete profiles so more of our graduates have the opportunity to attend Division 1, 2 or 3 institutions with academic and athletic scholarships.”