The 2020 fall prep sports season will look different than any other year before, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of changes.
Like many schools, DeForest has had to adjust its plans this fall. The school is moving forward with boys and girls cross country, girls golf and girls tennis this fall, but have pushed football, volleyball, girls swimming and boys soccer to the spring.
“Cross country, golf and tennis fit the current guidelines we have gotten from Dane County, so we are moving forward with those sports,” new Norski athletic director Richard Henert said.
Henert has had a lot of mixed emotions over moving forward with some sports and postponing others.
“I’m excited for the programs that can go in the fall, but it is heartbreaking to not see football, volleyball, soccer and swimming being able to compete,” Henert said. “There were just too many restrictions to offer the full experience in some of those sports.”
The seasons for the three sports moving forward this fall will look very different, especially since the Badger Conference canceled all competitions and championships for the fall.
Cross country, golf and tennis will all see a change in the format how competitions are run.
“For both practices and meets, we will prevent groups from getting too big,” Henert said. “There will be no doubles teams in tennis, only singles play. We are looking to change the format of running races in cross country. We are looking at the possibility of running one team at a time. That way you don’t have athletes from other schools right next to each other on the course. In golf, instead of pairing up No. 1 versus No. 1 for each team, each school will be grouped together. It will be altered a little bit, but it allows us to play opponents under the same conditions at the same course.”
Travel will also be different for the three fall teams, as the athletes will be spread out on the bus and will be required to wear a mask.
Scheduling meets has been a challenge for Henert this fall. He had to scrap all original schedules.
“There is a health meeting coming up, the first since they updated the new guidelines in Dane County last Friday, and we are looking to get some clarity on a few things as far as scheduling,” Henert said. “Right now, our interpretation is that we can travel to schools and have schools come here as long as they meet the guidelines. There are no restrictions on who we can schedule as long as we all meet the guidelines.”
As far as the fall sports that have been moved to the spring, Henert is hopeful those athletes will be able to have some contact days with their respective coaches this fall. Because the school year is starting virtually, all activities must be held outside until at least October.
“We want to maximize workouts and limit contact as much as possible,” Henert said. “Football will continue with conditioning workouts and we are hopeful they will have some open field opportunities. Boys soccer has also been doing some workouts together. All four sports will have contact days, but we have to wait until October to see if we can do more.”
Even with all the work and planning that is going into the fall season, Henert knows that things can change at any moment during the pandemic.
“We obviously want to do what is best for the kids,” Henert said. “We know that we are going to have to be able to adapt and meet changes that will surely come.”