Volleyball and football will compete in October

Freeze seventh grade football player Garrett Rominski prepares to run into a one-person football sled, as part of drill at a practice session at the MCC School on September 17, concluding the first week of three four-day-per-week practice sessions. Last week, both Freeze fall head coaches, including Head Football Coach Adam Gast and Head Volleyball Coach Melissa Thompson, mentioned how this practice schedule could potentially change depending on the MSHSL decision to restart these sports in the fall. On September 21, the MSHSL did decide to restart these two sports in the fall. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors today approved a reconsideration placement of fall activities, a decision that brings football and volleyball back to the fall season.

The plan, which fits within COVID-19 guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health, will have an approved football season beginning on Sept. 28 with the first of six regular season games scheduled for the week of Oct. 5. Since Sept. 14, member schools have had the option of participating in fall training sessions. In the framework that was adopted by the Board of Directors, a planned two-week football postseason will begin the week of Nov. 16.

Volleyball will begin an 11-week season on Sept. 28 and member schools may play their first matches on Oct. 8. In the framework that was approved by the board, two weeks of postseason play would begin the week of Nov. 30. Like football, member schools have had the option of participating in voluntary training sessions since Sept. 14.

“The Minnesota State High School League continues to work to provide educational opportunities for our student athletes in the safest manner possible for all involved,” said Board of Directors President Blaine Novak of New York Mills. “Coming into the meeting, we knew that every decision we make affects every other decision for the rest of the calendar year. Today’s decision, based on what we currently know and with the unknowns of what spring will bring, is based on the belief that playing now provides us the best opportunity to play a football and volleyball season.”

In a vote on Aug. 4, the board approved postponing football and volleyball until a spring season. But on Wednesday, Sept. 16, a day after a lengthy board workshop, Novak called for a special meeting of the Board of Directors to give reconsideration of returning the two activities to their traditional fall seasons. During the workshop, MDH shared updated information on COVID-19 analytics, spread and prevention. Board members also engaged in discussion with the Return to Participation Task Force, a group formed in late July to explore participation models and options for member schools and their participants during the COVID era.

Six League activities are currently taking place: Girls Tennis, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Soccer and Girls Swimming and Diving. Those activities began on Aug. 17 with additional safety protocols and practices as well as modified seasons, which decreased the length of the season by 20 percent and the number of contests by 30 percent.

To learn more about this story, read any of the September 23/24 Page 1 Publications issues in print or online.

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