As more and more COVID-19 restrictions loosen up, Maine high school athletes have more certainty after months of waiting for news about high school football and wrestling.
During the pandemic, Maine public health officials worked with the Maine Principals' Association to develop a risk assessment of various sports, from gymnastics to tackle football, in terms of how much of a chance they posed spreading COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, the association was responsible for crafting all guidelines for interscholastic sports in Maine.
Working with the state, gymnastics was rated a low-risk sport on the assessment chart while tackle football and wrestling were rated high-risk.
Those sports were ultimately the only two in Maine that could not play seasons for the 2020-2021 school year.
Late Wednesday, the Maine Principals' Association announced all sports will go forward for the 2021-2022 season.
More on the coronavirus pandemic in Maine
For seniors like the ones that played for Aaron Filieo, the head coach of South Portland High School's football team, the final decision not to have a football season for the 2020-2021 year in Maine was difficult.
"We just had our intimate senior celebration this past weekend, and it was tough," said Filieo on Wednesday, hours before the Maine Principals' Association's decision. "It was tough, it needed to be done to recognize those seniors and I was talking to a dad afterwards. His son was playing baseball, so his spirits were elevated, but it sort of brought back that emotion of what might've been."
Also on Wednesday, Maine officials explained the decision on fall sports would be made by the Maine Principals' Association, part of a formal step back that had been hinted at earlier in the week when public health officials nixed the risk assessment guidelines for various sports.
"The Maine Principals' Association will have the ability to decide on fall sports this year," said Jeanne Lambrew, the commissioner of Maine's Department of Health and Human Services. "This is part of our going back to the way things were before the pandemic."