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Oconto parents, student athletes plead for fall sports to begin despite Covid numbers

Northwoods Regional News

OCONTO, Wis. (WFRV) — Oconto student athletes and parents spent Friday evening sitting in on the Oconto Unified School District’s school board meeting, instead of under Friday night lights.

The district joins Algoma, Gibraltar, Kewaunee, NEW Lutheran, Pestigo, Stevasopol, Southern Door, and Sturgeon Bay in the Packerland Conference.

Over the summer, the conference announced that it was moving ahead with fall sports.

To play, the schools’ counties must fall below a certain threshold of coronavirus cases.

Oconto County has been above that threshold since June.

Parents and student athletes made an appeal to the Oconto School Board Friday night: to speak out against the Packerland Conference decision, and encourage other conference districts to do so as well.

“We sign releases for concussions, we sign at the jump parks that we know they could bust a leg, parents will sign a release for Covid to not let them blame anybody,” parent Michelle Bahrke told Local 5 ahead of the meeting. “Just let them be kids.”

Bahrke was one of several adults to speak out in front of the school board.

Joey Mossakowski, a senior football player, served as the voice of student athletes.

“If we just leave it up to the people who aren’t even playing then it’s kind of like we don’t really get a say,” he said of his decision to speak up. “So for me to come up here and speak, I think that’s kind of important.”

Mossakowski decided to speak Friday during school, and had his English teacher look over his written remarks ahead of the meeting.

He said that, as a senior, being able to play football games is a priority.

“Senior year, it’s a lot of lasts, you know what I mean?” he said. “Last dances, last school functions, and last games, and so for us athletes to be able to play in our season, it’s really important to us and I think that’s where this is coming from.”

The football team has been practicing, but every game currently hangs on Tuesday’s weekly announcement of county-wide Covid numbers.

As things stand, every Oconto game will be canceled until those numbers fall below the threshold.

No decision was made in response to the speakers at Friday evening’s meeting.

According to the school board, the golf team is playing as scheduled, the cross country team is participating in non-conference races, and volleyball and football teams’ seasons are up in the air.

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