WIAA Board makes decision about spring sports

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Summer competitions are a possibility

By Ted Pennekamp

 

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control has voted to cancel the spring sports competitions and spring sports tournament series due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s orders to close all public and private K-12 schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

The WIAA Board of Control did, however, approve the expansion of out-of-school coach contact for spring sports athletes from five days during the summer to 30 days.

This allows the spring sports teams the option to have practices and/or competitions during the summer months if they choose.

In order to get the expanded 30 days, teams must include this year’s seniors, otherwise contact will remain at five days during the summer months.

If the coronavirus numbers begin to decline and time allows, there could be high school baseball games, softball games, track meets, soccer matches, and golf matches held in July.

The 30 days of coach contact can’t begin until state and local guidelines allow, which is currently July 1, at the earliest.

The WIAA Board of Control’s ruling is so new, having been announced the afternoon of April 21, that for most schools it is too early to know what they might do regarding spring sports. Area schools have discussed the matter, but haven’t made any decisions yet.

“With it still being nine weeks away from July 1, and so many other events taking precedence in the meantime (graduation, prom, etc.), we are going to wait a little while longer before committing to anything for our spring programs,” said Wauzeka-Steuben Athletic Director Mitchell Cernek. “We’ve discussed a few options amongst our coaching staff, but have not made any plans yet. Most likely, we will revisit in a few weeks, maybe by the end of May.”

Prairie du Chien Assistant Athletic Director and Southwest Wisconsin Conference Commissioner Sara Godfrey said the SWC will make a decision by June 1 if there will be practices and competitions or not.

“At this time, we have not decided what we will be doing,” said Seneca Athletic Director  and Softball Co-Coach Erika Clark.

“We have made no decisions and it will be a week or so before we do,” said River Ridge Athletic Director and Softball Coach Wade Winkers.

The cancellation of all extracurricular activities prohibits all school or coach involvement with training, practices, scrimmages and contests until, at the earliest July 1, unless restrictions are removed prior to that time. Therefore, coaches may not bring students together or encourage students to assemble for extracurricular purposes, which includes competitions, practices and all instructional and training until the restrictions on assembling in groups are removed.

The WIAA Board of Control said, however, that all coaches are encouraged to continue to connect with their student-athletes with virtual organizational team meetings and team building exercises by video or messaging as approved by school administration to provide support for athletes. Coaches can provide general information to their athletes virtually, who may voluntarily review the suggestions. However, coaches are prohibited from mandating or instructing athletes out of season during this period.

Spring sports coaches may continue to provide individual virtual instruction for student-athletes with training, conditioning and skill development until the end of the respective spring sports season, which is the final day of the scheduled 2020 State Tournament for the respective sport.

The WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 513 senior high schools and 46 junior high/middle level schools in its membership.

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