After all the questions looming about the start of Kansas high school fall sports, a decision has finally been made.
On Tuesday, the Kansas State High School Activities Association had a Zoom executive board meeting, ruling in a 5-4 vote that sports will resume as scheduled per the KSHSAA handbook. As of right now, there are no changes in schedule due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has ravaged the nation, which has over the past months led to the cancellation and postponement of high school, college and professional sports.
Some states have cancelled fall sports, but that is not the case for Kansas.
Chanute High School girls golf coach Trevor Ewert said he was excited about the decision.
“Good to hopefully have some normalcy again,” Ewert said. “(I’m) excited for the season to start. We have so much to build on from last season. Going to start communicating with the girls and getting schedules put together. Might try to get out to the course at the end of the week and work with a few golfers in small groups.”
CHS soccer coach Adam Wilcox said it may be a little different come fall, but he is confident in the CHS staff.
“I’m sure it won’t be as simple as teams operating under previous paradigms,” Wilcox noted. “Even with whatever restrictions are in place, I believe athletics in some capacity is beneficial to students. Soccer still has a ton of work to do. We are replacing nine out of 11 varsity positions. I have a very dedicated group of kids and have had excellent numbers for our summer training. We still have a couple weeks of training remaining and I will be awaiting instructions from Zack (CHS AD Murry) on how CHS will work within whatever health precautions are set in place. Luckily, we have a thoughtful admin team and I’m confident we will put kids in the best situation possible.”
CHS volleyball coach Jory Murry was thrilled, though she said she hasn’t had a chance to speak with her team yet.
“We are excited,” Murry said. “We have team camp next week.”
CHS head football coach Clete Frazell said he is ready to get things going.
“(It’s) awesome. Camp next week then we crank up the 17th,” he said.
In a board meeting with KSHSAA President Alan Stein, Vice President Roger Perkins, Secretary Treasurer Shannon Haydock (4A representative), and other board members, representatives questioned and voiced their concerns about the direction of fall sports for an hour and a half before coming to a majority conclusion that the plan originally brought to the table by KSHSAA wasn’t the best way to go.
That original plan was developed after KSHSAA looked at nationwide information and surveyed superintendents from across the state of Kansas. Information from the National Federation of State High School Associations in the meeting revealed that 24 states have modified their sports calendar, 27 states have no changes at all, and six states will have no fall football.
Data gathered from superintendents in Kansas showed that 96 administrators expected for school to start the week of Aug. 24, while 84 said they expect the week of Aug. 17 to begin instruction. Just 41 administrators expected school to officially start the week of Sept. 8, while 31 voted for the week of Aug. 31.
Taking all this data into consideration, KSHSAA proposed a revised plan to start fall sports. Those initial plans included schools following local health authority guidance and restrictions, schools seeking to use KSHSAA general and specific activity considerations, beginning practice no earlier than Aug. 17, and no modifications for the Heat Acclimatization protocol.
Proposed competition start dates included girls tennis and girls golf starting no earlier than Aug. 21, cross country starting no earlier than Sept. 2, football, boys soccer, volleyball, and gymnastics starting no earlier than Sept. 8, debate beginning no earlier than Sept. 18, and the Scholars Bowl no earlier than Oct. 19. These proposed start dates, of course, needed to follow all health guidelines and KSHSAA considerations.
Some of the proposed handbook rule changes included reducing the high school football season to eight games, middle school and junior high school football games to six games (eliminating jamborees), high school soccer limited to eight games, middle and junior high school soccer to eight games. Volleyball would have had just 30 competition points, and middle and junior high school sports down to 24 points, among other proposed guidelines.
When all this data was presented to board members, it seemed as if those in attendance would overwhelmingly vote for the proposed plans. But most went the other way.
Still, while the regular season looks to start as normal, KSHSAA said that this season may not have official champions as it is unknown if post-season games will be played. The important thing, however, is communication, citing mental health issues among everyone involved and the importance of paying close attention to local health guidelines.
The board also said they will discuss measures taken should the numbers of COVID-19 impact communities drastically.
CHS intends on having regular and virtual school beginning Aug. 24. The first day of practice for fall sports will be Aug.17. For a full schedule, go to http://www.kshsaa.org/calendar.cfm and http://www.kshsaa.org/public/pdf/ActSpecificConsiderations.pdf
“Local school districts retain the right to modify the start dates for practice or competition based on their local and county health recommendations,” KSHSAA wrote in a press release.