A return to normalcy for public and private schools across Wisconsin occurred Thursday.
In a 8-3 decision, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Board of Control approved conducting the fall sports season with a delayed start. Girls golf, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving, and boys and girls cross country can begin practice Monday, Aug. 17. Football, boys soccer, and boys and girls volleyball will now start Monday, Sept. 7.
“Because of the Board’s action, while they can’t make any guarantees that things will work out as we plan them, they have given us the opportunity to at least hope and work in that direction,” WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson said, in the announcement. “We understand this decision will make some happy and others disappointed, but we will do our best to deliver to our membership what they have directed us to do.”
The earliest dates for the first competitions are Aug. 20 for girls golf, Aug. 21 for girls tennis, Aug. 25 for cross country, and girls swimming and diving. The earliest date for the first boys soccer, and boys and girls volleyball contests are Sept. 15 and the first possible football game may be scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 23, if the first practice is conducted on Sept. 7.
Osceola Athletic Director Scott Newton explained while Thursday’s news was great to hear, there’s still a lot to happen between now and first practices or even games.
Among those hurdles, coordination with the WIAA, Polk County Department of Health, fellow Athletic Directors within the Middle Border Conference, School Boards and Superintendents.
“This isn’t going to be your typical Fall sports season,” Newton opined as the Middle Border Conference spreads over three different counties (Polk, Pierce and St. Croix) and each county might have different health rules.
On a local level, Newton said scheduling gym space could be a concern because of social distancing. For example, volleyball has 50 kids out.
Newton did state so far the participation Osceola’s high school athletes have shown in the various open practices this month among the different sports has been outstanding.
As the school’s football coach, Newton said, they were preparing athletes for the original opening, Monday, Aug. 3. Now, it’s been pushed back a month.
“We will keep going and prepare for Monday, Sept. 7,” he added.
The WIAA also announced the end of the fall sports seasons remained unchanged, but the Board indicated the season may or may not culminate with a traditional tournament series. The length and beginning of the tournament series will be determined in the coming days. In addition, the winter and spring season calendars were not altered.