High school football off the table for fall, may happen later in the year

The VHSL voted at a special session of the executive committee today to explore alternate models for sports for the 2020-21 school year, all of which eliminate football and other sports from the schedule this fall.

Following a special executive committee meeting today, the VHSL has announced that high school football will not be played this fall. They are considering several models for what fall sports will look like.

All sports and activities have been categorized based on the risk factor of spreading the coronavirus among participants. Golf, tennis, scholastic bowl and swim and dive are among the low-risk activities, baseball, softball, soccer, cross country and track are classified as moderate-risk while football, basketball, volleyball and field hockey are among the high-risk sports. While low- and moderate-risk activities are allowed under the state’s current reopening guidelines, high-risk sports won’t be played until Virginia is out of phase three of the governor’s reopening plan.

The first model would keep all sports seasons in their regular place in the year, but only allow for low-risk fall sports, such as golf and cross country. More high-risk sports, including football, volleyball and field hockey would not be played.

The second model switches the seasons for spring and fall sports, allowing for baseball, softball and soccer to be held in the fall and football, volleyball and field hockey in the spring of 2021.

The third model proposes a December start date for any and all sports activities, starting with winter sports (basketball, wrestling, indoor track, etc.), then fall sports and spring sports, all of which would have shortened seasons.

“It’s important to remember that in all these models playing sports in the high risk category depends on being out of the current Phase III guidelines. All our efforts will continue towards advocating for the opening of sports and activities in a safe and reasonable way that will protect athletes, activity participants, coaches, officials, and the public,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. Haun. “The VHSL will continue making judgments based on the best available information and directives provided by the Governor, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).”

“I hope we get to have a season at some point,” said Louisa head football coach Will Patrick. “If they decide that the best course of action is to have it in the spring, then we’ll play in the spring. All I want is the opportunity for the team to play.”

At the same meeting, the committee suspended the July-August dead period for 2020, meaning teams can continue to have practices as long as they are following state guidelines to limit spread of the virus, including not sharing equipment and staying 10 feet apart as much as possible. Teams have been taking advantage of the ability to have practices in preparation for whenever their seasons do happen.

“The kids are working hard,” Patrick said. “They’re happy to be back out there working toward something.”

The volleyball team began their practices last Thursday, after the announcement about the fall season. Head volleyball coach Rachel Green says that the focus right now is toughening up the team’s fundamental skills.

“Whatever we do now will prepare us for later, whenever later is,” she said. “When it’s our turn to hit the court, we’ll be ready.”

The executive committee will meet again on July 27 to vote on which model they will follow for the upcoming sports season.

Updated July 22

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