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, Lodi has had to adjust its plans this fall. Last week, the Lodi School Board voted to move forward with boys and girls cross country and girls tennis this fall, but have pushed football, volleyball, girls swimming and boys soccer to the spring.
“The board was put in a tough spot like a lot of districts,” Blue Devil athletic director Sue Meffert. “We are happy our student-athletes still have opportunities. We are not taking anything away at this time. We are just moving things around.”
The Blue Devil cross country and tennis teams began practicing on Aug. 17.
“Athletes are an important part of our community , so we want to do what is best for our community and kids,” Meffert said.
The WIAA recently approved a plan for schools to move fall sports to the spring. Schools have the option to continue with the fall as planned.
Meffert was forced to cancel the original schedules for the cross country and tennis teams and is now working to piece together a new one.
“It is tough because we have to see what schools with can play against,” Meffert said. “The school district has asked us to follow guidelines. We are allowed duals only, no multi-school events. We are setting up some parameters and will be sharing them with other schools to see where they are at and if they will follow our guidelines. It is an ongoing process because there are a lot of moving parts and things change daily. There are still a lot of questions, like will spectators be allowed.”
To help with the health and safety of the athletes and coaches, Lodi has set up protocols for the season. Before each practice and meet, they will take a COVID screening test, which includes a number of questions.
“The action we take will depend on what they say,” Meffert said. “If they have symptoms, they cannot practice. If they have been in contact with somebody who is positive there is a protocol. These are the same protocols we are taking with the staff during in-service this week.”
The pandemic has also forced the Blue Devils to push off a celebration for the turf project at Lodi Stadium. The project is nearing completion.
“It is disappointing that due to the virus we can’t open our new stadium with a game. We have to postpone our celebration to the spring,” Meffert said. “I have been following the progress of the field weekly and we are getting closer and closer to being done. There is a lot of excitement, but also disappointment because we have to wait to enjoy it.”
No matter if it is this spring or later this year, Meffert knows it will be special for the athletes to get back to what they love.
“They have not had a chance to see a lot of people in a long time, so I expect our student-athletes to be happy when they can go out and compete, practice and talk to other people,” Meffert said. “I’m sure it will be nice to just be around people.”