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home : sports : sports
October 27, 2020

8/7/2020 12:47:00 PM
MSHSL votes for football and volleyball games to be moved to spring, other fall sports face game and practice reductions

The Minnesota State High School League voted on Tuesday, August 4 to move all MSHSL-sanctioned football and volleyball games from the fall season to the “second” spring season and move to a four season model for their sports in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four season model  includes a fall, winter, spring and summer season.

All four of the seasons will be shorter than a typical season for sports. Fall will start on time without football and volleyball but will end earlier than normal. Winter will start a bit earlier than normal and end earlier. The new “spring” season from mid-March to mid-May would feature abbreviated seasons of volleyball and football and traditional spring sports would move to the new “summer” season from mid-May to mid-July.

The other important factor that the MSHSL board did approve was allowing football and volleyball to practice this fall still. They won’t be able to play any games against other teams, but there will be some semblance of a practice schedule.

There were mixed reactions among some of the coaches of those sports.

North Branch football head coach Justin Voss said, “Everyone has just been waiting on what would happen this. My hope always was that we would be able to get the student-athletes to work and have an opportunity to compete. Sports are so important to these guys.

“Having our season in the spring changes that mindset a little bit, but we are still excited for the season and for guys to go out and compete and have that experience. It’ll be the boys of spring instead of the boys of fall, but we can make that work. It’s a new opportunity.”

Chisago Lakes volleyball head coach Hannah Lindstrom was a bit disappointed by the fact that her sport was deemed to have excessive contact when there is little to no required physical interaction.

“Our athletes and staff are experiencing some grief over the decision,” she said. “There’s a bit of a shock over the decision and we are confused as to how it was made.
“We do have a tremendous amount of respect for the MSHSL and know it was not an easy decision and not one they took lightly. We know they made the best decision with the information they had and that our student-athletes are their top priority.”

Both coaches expressed gratitude that at least a season will be able to happen. “We are moving on with positivity and thankfulness,” Lindstrom said. “We are so grateful our season wasn’t cancelled and we get some fall practices in. We have an exceptional group of seniors who are excited to compete. We know we’ll get to do that in the spring, and we’ll love every second of it!”

Both Voss and Lindstrom noted that they may have to get creative in the fall when they are allowed to practice but not hold games. For many high school athletes, the games are the payoff to practices, and it may be hard to keep them engaged when there isn’t games to look forward to for months.

“We’ll need to talk to the guys and make sure we stay committed and keep our eyes on the prize,” Voss said. “It’s a little bit long to wait, but that grind will pay off. The work we do in fall will translate to spring, and if we put in the work now, we’ll be more prepared for the spring.”

Lindstrom added, “I’ve already seen our girls in their limited training this summer. They have big aspirations and if it’s in the spring that’s OK. These girls have remained focused on the goal. As a program, we are thankful for every second we get together, and if we just have to intrasqaud scrimmage, we will.”

For the football season, there is a concern with fields still being frozen in March, especially the further north that teams travel, as not every school has a turf field.
“Minnesota weather can produce anything. What it comes down to is adjusting and adapting,” Voss said. “Our grounds crew is great and we’ll work with them to make sure the playing surfaces are adequate. If there are safety concerns, we obviously will have to work that out with the school, as safety is the main factor, but that’s something that will be approached as we get into the season.”

The fall season that remains will feature boys and girls soccer, girlstennis, girls swimming, and girls and boys cross country, albeit with some special stipulations.
• For cross country, there will be a limit to only three teams in a competition, which will eliminate some of the large meets that most schools typically have.  Girls tennis and girls swimming events will be capped at two teams per competition, and for all three of those sports, there will be a limit of only one to two events per week. That rule affects tennis the most, as they can have anywhere between three to five matches a week at times.

• For boys and girls soccer, they will be full go beginning August 17 as scheduled, but there will be a 20 percent reduction in participation weeks, a 30 percent reduction in the number of games, no scrimmages allowed and only one to two games per week.

• For all of those sports, postseason tournament schedules will be decided at a later date. Since they typically feature more than the limits that are currently imposed, whether that’s the amount of teams -- swimming and cross country feature multiple teams in sections and state -- or number of competitions in a week -- soccer sections and state are usually three to five games and are played over a week -- that decision wasn’t made at the meeting.

John Millea, media rep for the MSHSL, noted on Twitter that the discussion to hold soccer on time and not volleyball came down to the outdoor versus indoor aspect of the two sports, despite the level of contact being much higher in soccer.

Spring sports from this past season who had their season wiped out as the coronavirus outbreak began will be able to practice and sharpen skills in the fall season, but play no games.

The meeting was only to discuss and vote on fall sports, which means there were no agenda items on winter sports. MSHSL could face a similar issue down the road when it comes to wrestling, hockey, basketball and other high contact sports.

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