What a difference a year makes. Last August we were full of questions, this year we seem to have the answers. After a summer full of athletic activities without a related COVID outbreak the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) executive director Mark Uyl is confident that sports will go without the interruptions that we saw last season.
There are currently no restrictions, no testing, no masks, no limits on crowd size and no social distancing. Have we returned to normal? In a lengthy discussion on the Huge Show in late July he sounded extremely confident. “The summer has been good so far,” said Uyl. “Everyone is approaching the coming year as business as usual.”
“The Delta variant is causing problems in parts of the country, but so far we have escaped the worst of it,” he continued. “With all of the summer activity, a lot of which was indoors, we are not seeing a spread of the virus in our schools. Teams did not have to drop out of seven on seven football tournaments or summer basketball events. Camps were held in multiple sports around the state.”
Practices started on time this year with all sports beginning on Monday, August 9. Teams are also allowed to scrimmage this year. There is no limit to the number of teams at one site at this time.
“All indications are full speed ahead,” concluded Uyl. “Governor Whitmer said on July 27 that there are no plans to have another order that requires mask wearing and doesn’t anticipate one coming. I think all we can do is take her at her word and that’s the way that we are planning.”
Gladwin County football coaches Aaron Seiser from Beaverton and Marc Jarstfer from Gladwin were glad to have a normal summer and start to fall camp. “Everything that was attached to last years season made it one of the most difficult that I have had as a coach,” said Seiser. “I’m sure everyone in the state is feeling some relief, and we are just hoping that nothing major happens where we have more restrictions put in, we are feeling blessed with every day we have together because we know it can be taken away at any time.”
For Jarstfer the normal summer activities allowed his veteran team to make major progress. His team was in great shape physically last year because the restrictions prevented everything except for conditioning. This year they were able to hold their camp and travel to a team camp.
“I was really pleased with where we were yesterday at the end of practice,” he said. “With the opportunity we had over the summer we already have so much stuff in place. Once we got to practice we were able to rep where last year we didn’t have those opportunities.”
I am hesitant to declare that we are back to normal, but it sure feels good to be starting on time.