Everything around the world has dramatically changed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And the Kansas State High School Activities Association has planned for sports for the coming months as the state adjusts to the new norm.
On May 1, the KSHSAA Board of Directors approved summer guidelines for sports. But the following guidelines are contingent upon local healthcare authorities and USD 413 permitting all activities and all sports following group gathering restrictions, as well as social distancing expectations.
If Chanute’s school administration and local authorities deem sports permissible, summer programs can start no earlier than June. 1. Summer programs, as always, will continue to be voluntary. Schools can select what, when, and how often the plan of action is available for students.
Still, there are several conditions that apply for any summer activity in school facilities or under the direction of school employees. When June 1 hits, that very first week of summer activity (minimum of five days of conditioning) is limited to a maximum of three hours of physical activity for every student each day, including warmups, stretching, conditioning and weightlifting. Additionally, organized competition authorized by outside organizations or from students of different schools will not transpire at that time.
For the second week of the summer activity program (another minimum of five days of conditioning), cumulative physical activity shouldn’t surpass five hours each day. Similar to the first week, organized competition formally sanctioned from an outside party or students from different schools will not take place.
CHS girls golf coach Trevor Ewert said he is leaning towards the new KSHSAA guidelines not impacting his team for the upcoming fall season.
“I will encourage my girls to get going in summer weights and conditioning as soon as it opens up,” Ewert said. “We will try to have a camp, whether formal or informal, this summer and work with golfers individually if they can or when they ask to.”
There are even more conditions. Students can start organized competition under their school coaches in the third week of the summer activity program.
One-week school team camps can start following the 10-day acclimatization period, and can take place through Aug. 15. Beginning Aug. 17, traditional fall school practices will start. Handbook restrictions will resume at this time, too.
During the period of Aug. 3 to Aug. 16, basketball coaches cannot set up a team camp or work their players because that time is for final fall season preparations.
CHS boys basketball head coach Devon Crabtree said he will work around all of this.
“From everything I read, we will just have to ease into things and attend and have camps at different times this year,” he said. “Our kids have already shown their resilience, so I know they will be ready to get to work when the time comes.”
CHS girls basketball head coach Dustin Fox said these guidelines and conditions will not affect his operation, as the Lady Blue Comets are generally finished before that last week of July. He does, however, consider the nature of social distancing.
“Player safety is our primary focus, but as far as our normal player development strategy, things will be wildly different,” Fox said. “Everything we do as far as player development will have to be without defense until those (social distancing guidelines) are eased. We will also have to look at how many kids are allowed in the gym at any one time to make sure the guidelines are followed. It’s not ideal, but we can only control what we can control. We’re going to approach it as a great opportunity for us to get creative and try new methods.”
Football also requires additional guidelines that coaches will need to consider. America’s most popular high school sport must complete the three weeks of conditioning, which is a minimum of 15 days. For the first week of conditioning, the focus is centered on strength and conditioning, while limited individual football-specific drills are allowed.
Strength and conditioning continue the second week, and football-related, non-contact drills can take place.
Activities ramp up in that third week, though, with strength and conditioning continuing. Football-related drills are allowed, including 7-on-7 or 5-on-5 intrasquad scrimmages and one-week coaches camps with a helmets-only requirement.
Coaches working with athletes in football-related activities may be conducted through Aug. 3. Coaches working with athletes in football-related activities, one-week team camps with helmets-only, and strength and conditioning can transpire Aug. 3 to Aug. 15.
What’s more, team versus team camps, including college contact camps, is authorized for the summer. But the team camps must be organized by a third party in a maximum of two days, and may be conducted any time following the 15-day conditioning time up until Aug. 15.
CHS head football coach Clete Frazell sees the subtle differences between the guidelines and a normal time.
“As of now, it looks like we will be able to start summer conditioning at a normal time,” he said. “The only difference is there will be an acclimation period for athletes to kind of get back in the swing of things. Then after a three-week window, we will be able to resume summer activities as normal. KSHSAA has extended the fall sports practice deadline all the way up to the first week of practice. So in a sense, they have taken a little bit away the first three weeks, but added some extra options the last three weeks.”
KSHSAA has taken into consideration that there haven’t been that many options for fall athletes to train in the spring. A gradual increase in physical activity has evidenced a lower risk of injury. And if the summer is postponed, a team camp just before fall practice would presumably be beneficial.
“We were not previously allowed to have spring practices anyway, so it doesn’t affect us from a football standpoint,” Frazell added. “But it does affect us from a strength and conditioning aspect. We will be trying to play catch-up once we start with strength and conditioning to get our kids in shape and ready to physically handle the demands of the season to try and prevent injuries. Of course we will have to align ourselves with the social distancing rules that are in place with the state of Kansas as well at that time.”
The KSHSAA bases these recommendations on an anticipated practice start date of Aug. 17 for fall sports. If the start date is delayed, the dates of recommendations may be changed.