Please refer to the WIAA Homepage at WIAA.com for the latest information.
District 1 Director, Robert Polk, outlined the existing process for sports this spring very well. Below is the guidance he offered for all of us. Thanks to Robert for allowing us to reproduce it herel:
I hope all of you are well and finding things to do during this interesting time in our lives.
Yesterday the WIAA sent out a 2-minute drill regarding a plan to move forward with our spring sports season. Prior to this communication coming out, I participated in a conference call with District Directors to discuss a plan. The plan is predicated on many things falling into place. So we are going to assume April 24 will be the last day of the school closures.
Practices/gatherings during ordered closure: Many schools and districts have varied in their interpretation of the closure and its impact on offering practices. The purpose of the closures is to reduce contact among people to reduce the spread of the virus. With respect to the governor's orders, there should be no practices during the school closure. Additionally, coaches should strongly discourage athletes from organizing "captain's practices" and the like. Leaders should not look the other way on this. Coaches should probably avoid sending workouts to kids as the kids will tend to congregate to complete the workouts. People want to gather and be social. But right now we need to take care of our community by following the directives of health professionals.
Practice resumption: When the closure order is lifted on April 24, it was agreed that practices can resume on Saturday, April 25.
Counting practices: Some have argued that practices completed in March should be able to carry over to reduce the number of needed practices when we return. The intent of the minimum practice rule is to get kids physically ready for competition. A 6-week layoff between practices defeats that purpose. It has been determined that all athletes are back to zero completed practices.
Minimum practice rule: The minimum practice rule (10 for most spring sports) will not be waived. However, the way the practices can be completed is very flexible. The options to get to 10 practices is to hold two practices per day, use all 7 days of the week, and the option to count a practice on the day of a game. One suggestion to help athletes meet the requirements is to offer a conditioning session in the morning for all spring athletes. This will help programs where coaches cannot get to school in the morning.
Starting competition: District Directors unanimously agreed that the first day of competition in any sport can be Saturday, May 2. This will give all schools plenty of days to help kids get practices. Many schools have restrictions on allowing practices on Sundays or other religiously recognized days. We are striving for some consistency in this area.
Qualifying for Districts: Local control will determine this. Creative thinking and collaboration are imperative. Leagues need to figure out how teams will advance. One idea shared in my conference call was to shorten soccer games to halves and play 5-inning baseball and softball games. This could allow teams to play multiple games in one day. In baseball, pitch count rules will not be relaxed and we should be mindful of the fact some pitchers may not be in shape to throw 105 pitches when we get started. Most coaches work their kids up to that limit through the course of the season. 5-inning games may help take care of some arms.
District tournaments: These events are left to local control. We decide how we will determine which teams go to state. Creative thinking and collaboration are imperative.
State tournaments: The last day of state tournaments (except golf) will be Saturday, May 30. Moving tournaments later into June will impact graduation ceremonies in some schools. Conversations are taking place about adjusting dates for round 1 and 2 in soccer and regionals in baseball. Those rounds may be moved to give move time for state qualifying events. The other state tournaments will remain as scheduled.
What if the closures go longer: One thing we have learned is things change quickly. There is a chance the closures could extend into May. If things change, the WIAA will communicate with schools about the impact on state tournaments. It is difficult to anticipate what could happen at this point.
Kids just want to play: Every year in each sport in each classification, only 16 teams or individuals advance to state. More teams and individuals stay home than go to state. This year, leagues/districts are encouraged to create competitive opportunities for all teams after they have been eliminated from post-season. We need to find a way to keep kids playing through May 30.
Now that we have an idea on dates we need to start working on building a shortened season. Please work closely with your league partners. If your league is involved in bi or tri-district agreements, loop them in. We have some time to put things together. But the conversations can begin.
I appreciate the leadership you are providing to your community. Keep a positive and patient attitude. Our public needs us.
District One, Director