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October 2, 2012

EEE wreaks havoc with sports schedules

It has been an athletic director’s nightmare.

With a horse in Essex testing positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) on Friday, all four Cape Ann communities have issued an outdoors activity ban starting at 5 p.m. And an outdoor ban beginning at 5 p.m. means that Gloucester Athletic Director Kim Patience, Rockport AD Mary Ryan and Manchester Essex AD Kelly Porcaro have had to scramble to change game times as the ban will remain in place until the season’s first hard frost.

With most games slated to start in the 4 p.m. range, and several others from all three Cape Ann schools taking place at night, keeping the game times the same was not an option.

“It’s not a fun situation to be under, but we all certainly understand the ramifications of the situation,” Patience said. “In most cases we have just moved the start times up — trying to do 3 p.m. or 3:15 starts, if possible.”

Games beginning in the 3 to 3:15 p.m. range seem to be the norm as all of Gloucester’s scheduled home games are slated to begin no later than 3:15 p.m. this week. Gloucester’s away games are not affected, as Gloucester is the only city or town in the Northeastern Conference that has a mosquito-related outdoor activities ban. Tonight’s boys and girls soccer matches, slated to start at 7 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively in Salem, have not changed nor has Gloucester’s field hockey game at Danvers starting at 4 p.m.

This afternoon’s home cross country meet against Winthrop at Ravenswood Park, however, had been bumped up to 3:15 p.m.

While away games are not affected for Gloucester, the opposite is true for Rockport and Manchester Essex, as 75 percent of schools in the Cape Ann League have similar outdoor activities bans.

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