The WIAA approved — by a vote of a 8-3 — a plan to start practice for low-risk fall sports on Aug. 17 and begin the practice of three other high school sports on the week of Sept. 7.
“The positive thing is fall sports are going to happen,” Fort Atkinson Athletic Director Steve Mahoney said. “They certainly weren’t canceled, they weren’t moved to a different time of the year. I think we got some resolution we can move forward. Everyone knows an official start date and we’re all going to do our best.”
The WIAA Board of Control met Thursday morning to discuss possible options for the upcoming high school sports season.
The board approved a plan to start practices for cross country, girls golf, girls swim and girls tennis, which are all lower risk sports, on Aug. 17. Football, boys soccer and volleyball can begin practices the week of Sept. 7.
“What this definitely does now is give us certain dates of when things will happen,” Whitewater Athletic Director Justin Crandall said. “And it gives us a nice two to three week run up to work out the details of how each sport will work. When you’re in limbo like we were and you’re not sure what’s going on it’s hard to plan for that.”
The Badger Conference will meet tomorrow and Monday to discuss plans going forward, according to Mahoney.
“A couple things we have to workout, who can play and who can’t play,” Mahoney said. “We have to separate that first right away. If we have voids in our schedule... we need start shopping around to add some additional dates.”
For example, the Fort Atkinson boys volleyball team plays in the Big Eight, but the conference announced Tuesday it will not hold any conference competitions in the fall.
The Rock Valley superintendents are meeting Friday morning, according to Crandall. He expects conference ADs to meet early next week.
Although there will be a fall sports season, it will be anything but normal.
“I certainly think it’s going to look a lot different and I think we need to be prepared for that,” Mahoney said. “We have to find out what our capacity restrictions are, if we can have fans or can’t have fans. We’re just going to have to be flexible.”
So, what are the biggest obstacles going forward after the decision?
“I think the biggest challenge is, as they (WIAA) talked about, our conference spreads over five different counties and we have different guidelines,” Mahoney said. “Finding out who can play, who can’t play will be the first thing.”
Mahoney noted that one problem that wasn’t addressed at the WIAA meeting was officials. Mahoney said he feels like official shortages could be an issue moving forward.
“That could be a challenge,” Mahoney said. “We’ll have to see how that pans out.”
For Crandall, it’s the unknown that’s the biggest obstacle.
“Transportation is obviously a big one,” he said. “For football we have 50ish kids, plus 10 to 12 adults. You’re talking 60 people, you can’t do that. How we transport kids is going to be a big deal.
“Are spectators going to be allowed? I think honestly every single aspect that goes into planning for a game is going to be reviewed. That will take time.”
While rescheduling might seem like an issue on the surface, Crandall said he doesn’t believe it will be.
Non-conference games could be thrown away, and big innovationals are likely to be scrapped.
“I don’t see multi-team events happening,” Crandall said. “We start our volleyball season out with a 24-team tournament, that’s not going to happen. I don’t think even tris or quads are going to happen. I think it’s going to be two schools at a site and that’s what it’s going to be.
“We’ll have some cancelations for sure, but I don’t think there will be a lot of restructuring conference games or matches.”
If districts opt not to participate in the fall, a spring opportunity will be provided, according to a tweet from the WIAA.
“I’m confident that we’re going to at least assemble” Mahoney said. “Certainly it depends on our county’s risk and how it matches up with those WIAA guidelines. I think it (spring opportunity) was amended in there as a fall back plan in case something drastic happened.
“We’re confident on those new dates.”