The schedules will be limited and strict guidelines will have to be followed, but some coaches of winter sports at McFarland and Monona Grove High Schools are happy games will be scheduled this month.

Teams began practices in mid-November but they were shut down after the number of COVID-19 infections increased. Yet, practices were expected to resume this week after the Monona Grove and McFarland school boards gave their consent.

“I think it’s very important for kids to have that opportunity,” McFarland High School athletic director Paul Ackley said. “Practicing is wonderful but you need to have something to practice towards.”

Monona Grove High School girls’ basketball coach Tyler Kuehl is also excited winter sports will be returning.

“Not only am I excited for the kids that they will get the opportunity to play like their peers around the state, but I’m relieved because now we can offer them a safer environment than the alternative,” Kuehl said.

“I think it’s very important that the kids have this choice. I know some kids will choose not to participate and that is totally understandable.”

McFarland boys’ and girls’ basketball play in the Rock Valley Conference and Monona Grove basketball competes in the Badger Conference. Both schools compete in the Badger Conference for boys’ swimming, boys’ and girls’ hockey and boys’ wrestling.

Ackley said McFarland boys’ and girls’ basketball will adhere to Rock Valley Conference protocols aimed at reducing the possibilities for COVID-19 infections. For example, the number of athletes riding buses to games will be limited.

“If weather allows, we will be cracking the windows (in the buses) to get some ventilation and fresh air through there. We will put hand sanitizer on before we get on the bus and when we get off the bus,” Ackley said. “Each school should provide us with an informational sheet that tells us what entrance we need to get into and what pathways we have. Kids should bring their own water bottles, locker rooms will not be available and fans will not be in attendance. The benches at basketball games will be set up to keep kids socially distanced.”

Ackley said the rules may vary for boys’ hockey games, especially those played in non-school owned facilities. For example, Baraboo will not allow spectators but Monroe will admit two family members 18 years and older to attend.

During boys’ swimming meets, competitors will not have to wear masks during their swims but must have them on when not in the pool. Wrestlers will have to wear masks both on and off the mat. Ackley said emphasis will be placed on keeping athletes and other attendees safe from the virus.

“It’s going to be different. Going to a restaurant is different. Family get-togethers are different. Winter sports are going to be different,” he said.

“There will be curveballs thrown at us, some teams are not going to be able to play us or we may not be able to play some teams. We need to be as flexible as possible, and roll with the punches and do the best we can with scheduling and getting our kids involved in competitions.”

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