The WIAA approved — by a vote of a 8-3 — a plan to start practice for low-risk fall sports on Aug. 17 and begin the practice of three other high school sports on the week of Sept. 7.
The WIAA Board of Control met the morning of Thursday, July 23, to discuss possible options for the upcoming high school sports season.
The board approved a plan to start practices for cross country, girls golf, girls swim and girls tennis, which are considered low-risk sports, on Aug. 17. Football, boys soccer and volleyball can begin practices the week of Sept. 7.
The Badger Conference met Monday to discuss plans going forward, according to Milton Activities Director Jeff Spiwak.
“They (WIAA) made their determination and right now as a conference we’re discussing options moving forward,” Spiwak said. “What the WIAA says and what county health departments say aren’t exactly in line. Just as a conference… we’re just trying to make a deliberate decision that benefits each individual school in the conference. But no determinations have been made yet as a conference. At least the one thing the WIAA did do is give us some time to try and assess the situation and find the best course of action.”
Monday’s conference meeting brought up lots of questions and talks of logistics about the WIAA’s decision.
“Rock County Health Department has pretty strict guidelines right now for what we can and can not do,” Spiwak said. “If we were to go ahead and try to have a fall season, what would that look like? Would it be beneficial? Would it be what we want it to be? Logistically, you’re looking at rescheduling an entire season, that includes opponents, locations, officials. There is a ton of work to do logistically as well.”
What could a potential fall sports season look like?
“If we go down the road of having competition in the fall it will be very different,” Spiwak said. “We’ll have to create rules for spectators, there will be social distancing requirements at all times. Even the competitions themselves will look and feel differently. That’s an important thing to note. Things like large invites, multi-school invites can’t happen. You’re looking at narrowing down your competition between two schools.”
Spiwak called the uncertainty of the situation one of the hardest things going forward.
“I want to do everything in my power to give our student-athletes the opportunity that they want and deserve,” Spiwak said. “The opportunity our community and families want for athletics. Operating with that mentality with all the uncertainty we face is the most difficult thing. It makes it stressful.”
More finalized decisions regarding fall sports are to be determined, with risk levels in counties changing.
“A decision like this is multi-level within the school district, it’s not just me,” Spiwak said. “There’s input from conference principals, superintendents, even the school board will have a say.
“It’s all contingent upon the virus as well. We could make a decision and come up with a plan and then Rock County could see a huge spike in cases.”
If districts opt not to participate in the fall, a spring opportunity will be provided, according to a tweet from the WIAA.
“There’s no clarity on what that would look like,” Spiwak said. “The next few weeks the WIAA needs to come out with guidance of what exactly that means for all of us to offer a spring option.
“It just adds to the uncertainty.”
School board meeting
On Monday, July 27, the Milton School Board met and Superintendent Rich Dahman spoke regarding the WIAA’s decision.
“There’s been a lot of discussion at the state level about fall activities and athletics and whether those will take place or not take place,” Dahman said.
“There wasn’t a decision made by the statewide group. It was up to local school districts and their conferences on what they want to do.
“There is another piece to this, because many of our Badger Conference schools are in Dane County and Dane County has some additional restrictions. School districts in Dane County are not allowed to start any of their athletic teams right now.”
Dahman said there will be a recommendation brought to the Aug. 10 school board meeting regarding fall sports and what it will likely look like.
The Milton superintendent said they will continue to discuss with other schools and Rock County Public Health, adding Aug. 10 could be the date the board makes a decision.
Dahman noted Spiwak is working on scheduling some activites, so if fall sports are played, Milton will have games and matches scheduled.
He added, as of now, the plan is to continue with the season until the board would make a decision otherwise.