By Beth Germano

NEWMARKET, N.H. (CBS) – The tournament season for the Newmarket, New Hampshire boys and girls high school soccer teams has come to an end before it even began.

“It was probably the most disappointing thing I could have heard,” said senior Ben Ernest.

It’s because of a district policy that masks must be worn both on and off the playing field. The teams had to forfeit their first postseason games when the opposing teams would not agree to wear masks.

Communities in New Hampshire can establish their own individual protocols over sporting events.

“Through all the quarantine at least we knew we had soccer and now as the clock strikes twelve we lost that as well,” said senior Haydn Russell.

Newmarket Superintendent Dr. Susan Givens cites COVID cases that have nearly tripled in the community.

“We do this willingly because as a community we believe it is our responsibility to do whatever is necessary to mitigate the impact this virus has on others and provide a safe learning environment for all staff and students,” Givens said in a statement.

Players said they tried to compromise saying they would all wear masks and quarantine during the tournament and two weeks after it ended.

“Getting kicked out of the first round because other teams wouldn’t compromise with us is really heartbreaking,” said junior Jessica Berry.

Epping Superintendent William Furbush, one of the opposing communities, said some parents expressed concern that masks pose respiratory challenges.

The head of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association said they have to look at an even bigger picture.

“Facing a global pandemic and being able to get out there and compete in some way, shape or form all season long has been truly remarkable,” said executive director Jeff Collins.

In Newmarket it was remarkable with the boys team defending champions, and the girls looking for a shot at improving their runner-up status.

“Our school policy is one that should have been followed by everybody,” said Ernest.


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Beth Germano


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