2020-21 travel season update: Clinics to start Dec. 7; no games

NOTE: The following information was emailed Nov. 18 to those families who had registered for the HBA season prior to the Nov. 1 registration deadline (with some updates since added).

The HBA board of directors has voted against entering teams in the Metrowest League this season. While the Metrowest League is planning a modified season that will start in January, the HBA board was not comfortable having our program participate for a number of reasons related to both health/safety and logistics (more on that below).

In place of the league season, we will offer clinics/scrimmages instead. Here is the plan for those.

We have set the schedule based on how many players registered in each grade before we closed registration on Nov. 1. As per health regulations, we can have a maximum of 25 people in the gym, including coaches. For grades where we had more than the maximum number register we will break into two groups. For Grade 6-8 boys, those groups will be divided into an A and B practice based on skill level, using evaluations from last season. Anyone new to the town/program can schedule a tryout to determine their proper placement, or they will be placed in the B practice. Any other grade with more than one practice session will have even-skilled groups.

Registration for the clinics will be opened only to those who have already signed up for the HBA season. If spots still remain, we will reach out to those who played last year but have not registered for this season.

The clinics will be 75 minutes long and will include drills and scrimmaging. They will start Dec. 7 (NOTE UPDATED START DATE) and run for eight weeks, until early February. The fee is $75, which includes a T-shirt. 

Every player (and coach) must wear a face covering during the entire practice — including while playing.

Only players and coaches and supervisors are allowed in the gym. No parents, siblings, etc. You will drop off and pick up your child outside the gym.

Before every practice, a parent/guardian is required to fill out an online form indicating the player is clear of any health concerns. No player will be allowed to participate without this form. Any child showing any symptoms of sickness should be kept home from practice.

Here is the schedule, with updated dates as of Nov. 20, starting one week later than originally planned (all updates from original schedule in bold).


Grade 4 boys: Mondays, 3:15-4:30 p.m. (1 clinic)
Dec. 7, Dec. 14, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 8

Grade 5 boys: Thursdays, 4:45-6 p.m. (1 clinic)
Dec. 10, Dec. 17, Jan. 7, Jan. 14, Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4, Feb. 11

Grade 6 boys: Saturdays, 3:15-4:30 and 4:45-6 p.m. (2 clinics, divided evenly)
Dec. 12, Dec. 19, Jan. 9, Jan. 16, Jan. 23, Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13

Grade 7 boys: Wednesdays, 3:15-4:30 and 4:45-6 p.m. (2 clinics, A and B levels)
Dec. 9, Dec. 16, Jan. 6, Jan. 13, Jan. 20, Jan. 27, Feb. 3, Feb. 10

Grade 8 boys: Sundays, 4:45-6 p.m. (1 clinic)
Dec. 13, Dec. 20, Jan. 10, Jan. 17, Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14


Grade 4 girls: Mondays, 4:45-6 p.m. (1 clinic)
Dec. 7, Dec. 14, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Feb. 8

Grade 5 girls: Fridays, 3:15-4:30 p.m. (1 clinic)
Dec. 11, Dec. 18, Jan. 8, Jan. 15, Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 12

Grade 6 girls: Tuesdays, 3-4:15 p.m. (1 clinic)
Dec. 8, Dec. 15, Jan. 5, Jan. 12, Jan. 19, Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 9

Grade 7 girls: Sundays, 3:15-4:30 p.m. (1 clinic)

Dec. 13, Dec. 20, Jan. 10, Jan. 17, Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14

Grade 8 girls: No clinics (not enough registrations)

We do not anticipate any changes to this schedule or the plan in general, but we reserve the right to make alterations, which might be required based on developments outside of our control.

Within the next hour you will receive an automated email indicating your child has been removed from the wait list (check your spam folder if you don’t see it by 6 p.m.). You then can go into your AdminSports account and pay. The amount has been adjusted to $75. PAYMENT MUST BE COMPLETED BY THIS SATURDAY (Nov. 21). Anyone who has not paid by Saturday will be taken off the list.

Here are a few questions and answers about the clinics.

Q: Is there any chance we could have games? If other towns are playing in the Metrowest League why did Hopkinton decide against it?

A: There are no plans for any games. The Metrowest League had an online meeting last week for town travel coordinators. Those of us from the HBA board who attended the meeting were in agreement that there was not yet a clear plan to ensure adherence to the state’s COVID rules and restrictions. This is not to say they won’t figure it out, but the league gave towns a very short deadline to commit, and the HBA board was not comfortable moving forward based on the information that had been provided.

Additionally, for us to be able to hold practices at Center School, a town-owned gym, we would need to present an acceptable overall strategy for approval by the Hopkinton Health Department. We are not able to do that based on the current league plan, which assigns responsibility to individual town programs and coaches.

Lastly, the league was not sure how many gyms would be available for games and warned that some teams might be turned away because of this. These factors, combined with our own limited gym availability for practices, meant we would have had to limit the number of teams and cut far more players than we ever have, and that’s not something that fits within our overall program philosophy.

We have heard a variety of opinions from parents, including some of whom would like to play and others who are opposed, and we respect all sides. At the end of the day, our commitment to protect the health and safety of the players and coaches in our program — and by extension the town and schools — took top priority.

Q: Why are so many of the practices scheduled for weekday afternoons?

A: The only gym available in town is Center School, which is no longer an active school. All the active schools are not allowing outside groups inside. The Center School gym is controlled by Parks & Rec, so rec basketball takes priority and gets the prime-time slots. HBA is using the time that is left, which is weekday afternoons and later in the day on Saturdays/Sundays.

Q: Are these clinics basically the same as the rec practices?

A: There are some similarities. The primary difference is that the rec program is geared more toward inclusivity (players of all abilities and interest level) and having fun, so the practices are run with that in mind. The HBA clinics are more focused on skill development. Certainly we also want the players to enjoy themselves, but coaches will push the players a bit more than rec, and the level of competition will be stronger, as it’s designed for travel players. Additionally, all HBA clinics will be run by adults, whereas some rec teams are coached by high school volunteers.

Q: Can players participate in both the rec and travel clinics?

A: Yes, we anticipate many players will sign up for both programs, and the clinics have been scheduled so that no grade would have two practices on the same day.

Q: For Grade 6-8 boys, why are tryouts only for new players? Can I request a tryout for my child to see if they can be placed into the more advanced practice?

A: Group tryouts are not possible this year due to the COVID restrictions. For new players, because we have no data on them, we have no choice but to schedule an individual workout to determine where they would fit best. But we will not schedule a tryout for any returning players. We understand this might be frustrating to someone who has worked hard in the offseason to improve, but we feel this is the most consistent and fair policy under the circumstances.

Q: Can you tell me now in which group my child will be placed? Can I get details on their evaluations so I know where my child needs to improve?

A: Until we know who is committed to these practices, we won’t be able to provide any information about who might end up in the A or B clinics. And as per HBA policy we cannot share any details about a player’s evaluations, either from tryouts or coaches.

Q: If clinics are canceled for health reasons will we receive a refund?

A: Refunds will be awarded based on this schedule: If all clinics are canceled, the fee will be reduced to $20 to cover the cost of the T-shirt. If only 1-2 clinics are held, the fee will be $35. If 3-4 clinics are held, the fee will be $55. If five or more clinics are held, the full fee ($75) will be charged.

Lastly, Tri-Valley Sports has opened the HBA online store for anyone who would like to purchase HBA apparel before the holiday season. The link is: https://trivalley.tuosystems.com/stores/hopkintonythbball2020

— Jerry Spar