Minnesota state high school officials adjust fall sports season; football and volleyball move to spring
The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) board voted Tuesday to move fall football and volleyball to a new spring season, while allowing the start for other fall sports later this month.
"With restrictions to limit the potential spread of the virus as best we can, and still we run the risk of outbreaks in our schools or fall teams, or do we consider pushing some of the higher risk sports to the spring, essentially hope for some better days," said Troy Stein, MSHSL treasurer.
MSHSL board members voted sport by sport on their decisions on what to suggest for the fall season to member schools, including allowing the start on Aug. 17 for girls tennis, girls swimming and diving, boys and girls soccer and cross country running.
"Our Board of Directors recognizes the importance of the League’s activities in supporting the mental and physical well-being of our students and worked very hard to provide some level of participation in all activities. In addition, they recognize their responsibility in focusing on the health and safety of all who participate in or support these opportunities," said Erich Martens, MSHSL Executive Director.
With guidance from MSHSL, athletic directors will be scheduling a shorter season, fewer games, no scrimmages and limited travel for the fall sports that were approved.
Due to Minnesota Department of Health restrictions on visitors in schools, swimming and diving events will likely not have parent spectators if they are held in schools.
"(When) I woke up this morning, I was pretty sure that football wasn’t going to happen. I had reservations about soccer happening, I’m overjoyed for those kids. They have a shot,” said Josh Thurow, the athletic director at Minnehaha Academy. “I just got off the phone with my volleyball coach, she said there’s a lot of tears in the gym. Those girls really wanted to have a fall season."
Thurow said they will rely more on parents to transport student-athletes to sporting events, as transportation is a new issue in the world of COVID-19 concerns.
"I think overall it’s a good day. Obviously there’s a lot of changes, just the world we’re living in changes by the week. Most importantly everyone is going to get some time of season as long as we keep the virus under control," said John Pohl, the activities director at Hill-Murray School.
Wayzata High School football won the 2019 state championship but defending that title will have to wait.
"Initially it was there was (a) disappointment. You want to play, right? You coach and kids work hard to play games and get that opportunity," said Wayzata football coach Lambert Brown. “Having that ability to play and that chance to go compete is a big deal, we’re looking forward to that opportunity."
State athletic officials will allow fall sports that are being moved to continue with practices.
"We don’t have full control over what’s going on but we have control over how we respond," Brown said.