Paul Ackley

McFarland High School athletic director Paul Ackley said the administration and school board will look at their options with hopes of establishing a winter sports season for student athletes, coaches and families. The McFarland boys’ hockey and boys’ swimming teams compete in the Badger Conference, which recently announced it will not have league competitions in the 2020-21 winter sports season due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged Wisconsin for nearly seven months, has forced Badger Conference officials to postpone winter sports schedules for 2020-21.

According to a statement released by the conference, “since all member schools are not able to participate fully in conference contests during the upcoming winter season dates as scheduled, sanctioned Badger Conference competitions will not be held and conference champions will not be named.”

However conference schools will have the option of scheduling non-conference events during the winter season so long as they follow the guidelines of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) and local public health officials.

These changes would impact Monona Grove High School, which has Badger Conference participation in boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ hockey, gymnastics and boys’ swimming. The Monona Grove/McFarland boys’ wrestling co-op also competes in the league.

McFarland High School is a member of the Badger Conference in boys’ hockey and boys’ swimming. Boys’ and girls’ basketball play in the Rock Valley Conference, which has made no decision on the status of winter sports.

“The athletic department is currently working with the administration and the school board to see what options we have to hopefully provide some type of a winter season for our student athletes, coaches and families,” McFarland athletic director Paul Ackley said. “The school will continue to review the Public Health Madison Dane County guidelines and do its best to find possible options that will provide opportunities for our student athletes, coaches and families for this upcoming winter season.”

Including Monona Grove, the Badger Conference has 16 schools.

Eight are located in Dane County where requirements on wearing masks, social distancing and crowd limitations were put into place by County Executive Joe Parisi and public health officials after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic.

Other counties with Badger Conference-represented high schools in winter sports include Sauk (Sauk Prairie, Baraboo, Reedsburg), Columbia (Portage), Green (Monroe), Dodge (Beaver Dam) and Jefferson (Watertown, Fort Atkinson).

“We understand the need to be flexible, adaptable, and use creative thinking as we move forward and appreciate the understanding of our school communities as we continue to work together to navigate the COVID-19 situation,” the Badger Conference statement said. “Therefore, we are committed to offering opportunities to our students, assuming it is safe and allowable as determined by public health.”

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