by ALEXANDRA RETTER
High school sports seasons may be shifting for some teams, but student athletes at Winona Senior High School (WSHS) will still have opportunities to practice and compete this school year.
There will be four seasons of sports in the 2020-2021 academic year. The fall sports of girls and boys soccer, girls and boys cross country, girls swim and dive and girls tennis will begin on August 17. The teams will practice around five to six times a week.
The other fall sports of volleyball and football will have shifted schedules. The volleyball and football teams will be able to practice a maximum of 12 times from September 10 through October 3, except Sundays. They will compete in the spring from about March 15 to May 14.
“Through all the positives and negatives of all this, it does give kids an opportunity to do something they normally wouldn’t have done before if they so choose,” Director of Activities and Transportation Casey Indra said. “For example, a football player could go run cross country or play boys soccer.”
After the volleyball and football teams compete in the spring, the spring sports of girls and boys track, softball, boys tennis, girls and boys golf and baseball will start. They will go from sometime after May 14 to about the first week of July. The spring sports teams will also be able to practice 12 times from October 5 through October 24, minus Sundays.
Indra and the sports’ coaches are dedicated to creating good sports seasons for student athletes, he shared. “It may not be the season they dreamed of, but nevertheless, we can give them opportunities to learn and to play,” Indra stated. “I think we owe it to them to do that.”
Scheduling different teams’ practices, as well as working with club advisors so student athletes can participate in both sports and clubs, will be done with flexibility, as has happened in the past, Indra shared.
Currently, it is unclear whether students will be able to play volleyball in the spring for both WSHS and a club team that is separate from the school, Indra noted. Questions also remain about whether students would be able to practice volleyball with WSHS in the fall and play on a club team at that time, if club teams were to move their seasons to the fall, he stated.
Students will practice in pods of 25. Social distancing will take place as much as possible. Students will also have their temperatures taken and answer COVID screening questions.
Students will wear masks as they arrive to practice and during parts of practice, such as when they are out of the pool for those on the girls swim and dive team, Indra said. Students will wear masks when they are on school transportation as well.
Bus capacity will be set at 50 percent, so two buses may be taken to an event, depending on the number of students going to a competition, Indra explained.
Competitions will take place with solely other schools in the Big 9. In most cases, just two schools will be present at a competition, Indra said. With cross country, a maximum of three schools may attend a competition. Competitions will likely take place once or twice a week. At this time, it is uncertain whether section and state competitions will occur, Indra noted.
The girls swim and dive team will compete in their home pool for all competitions, and team members’ times and scores will be tracked virtually.
Indra is eager to receive guidance from the state regarding whether spectators will be allowed at outdoor events, he shared. He noted that it may be tough to monitor spectators watching soccer games that happen on a field near the high school and the path around Lake Winona, for instance.
Information about middle school sports taking place in the fall is pending.
Keep reading the Winona Post for more on this story.