GLADWIN COUNTY – The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) issued its long awaited guidance for fall sports last Thursday. It has been eight weeks since Governor Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Roadmap and asked the MHSAA to provide guidance for reopening school sports. The MHSAA announced that schools in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, Regions 6 and 8, may begin competition in volleyball, girl’s swimming and boy’s soccer.
Schools in Regions 1-5 and 7, including Beaverton and Gladwin, can continue to practice outdoors, but cannot hold on site competitions. The Flying G’s and Beavers are able to travel to Region 6 and 8 for games. The MHSAA press release states that they were prepared to allow competitions in all Regions of the state in boys soccer, girls swimming and diving and volleyball but were unable to do so because of unanswered questions relating to the governor’s executive orders. It is our hope that further guidance on these questions will reach the MHSAA within the coming week.
The MHSAA and its Executive Director, Mark Uyl, seems to be putting the ball squarely in Whitmer’s court in a written statement from Thursday. “Our council has made clear it is ready to offer students these opportunities, pending approval from Governor Whitmer that we may do so,” Uyl said. “We have been told that within a week, future guidance will address athletic issues that exist in current executive orders. We are awaiting that guidance.”
Part of the guidance included attendance restrictions for events in Regions 6 and 8. Volleyball will be limited to a total of 250 people or 25 percent of the facilities capacity whichever is smaller. Beaverton volleyball traveled to Traverse City Central for their first competitions of the year on Monday a quad with Central, Petoskey and Kingsley. Beaverton parents provided transportation for the team and found out upon arrival that no spectators would be allowed inside including scorekeepers and managers.
The school also took several more precautions. The players were required to social distance with masks on. They were given hand sanitizer and had their temperatures taken on the way in the building. The net even had a plastic shield separating the opposing teams.
Outdoor competitions in Region 6 and 8 are allowed to have 500 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is smallest. For both the indoor and outdoor events, the total number of people allowed includes all participants, officials, school and game personnel, fans and media.
Several out-of-season coaching adjustments were made to allow football and spring sports coaches more contact with their athletes leading up to the 2021 season. The Representative Council approved 16 contact days for any sport that had its full season canceled or moved. These days can be used for voluntary practice among students from the same school only. Football activities can be scheduled between August 24 and October 31. Spring sports such as baseball and softball can schedule their contact days from September 8 through October 31. Football and all spring sports then may conduct skill work with coaches and up to four players at a time beginning Nov. 1 until the first day of official practice this upcoming spring. Coaches also may work with an unlimited number of players on general conditioning during that time.