Fall FHSAA sports? Area coaches weigh in
By Mike Ridaught
Twitter – @ridaught
In my opinion, we will have high school sports on some level this fall.
But it remains anyone’s guess about what that means for contact sports like volleyball and football.
This Monday, July 20, is an important date for high school sports in the Sunshine State. The Florida High School Athletic Association has a ‘mandatory’ Board of Directors meeting via Zoom on Monday at 5 p.m.
The FHSAA’s task force recommended moving the start of fall practices to August 10.
For now, the first practice date remains as Monday, July 27, with preseason games just two weeks after that.
However, we are in unprecedented times and things change so rapidly.
Earlier this week the NJCAA announced they were moving most of their fall junior college sports, including football and volleyball, to the spring.
New Mexico and Virginia have moved their fall high school sports to the spring. South Carolina is considering it.
South Carolina is considering a move to spring… this would be a change to the list we shared from @HSFBamerica earlier. We still have no idea what is really going to happen here, but if I were to take a guess right now, school districts may make the final decision. https://t.co/HJ6y7G5lF7
— FloridaHSFootball.com (@FlaHSFootball) July 14, 2020
And there are some places in Florida, like Tallahassee, which are considering a shutdown of fall sports.
Starting tomorrow, all athletic training programs and practices will be canceled for the rest of the summer. We will make a final decision on Fall sports in the coming weeks.
— Leon County Schools (@LeonSchools) July 13, 2020
You have to wonder if these will be considered/discussed during Monday’s meeting.
Several area coaches expressed their hopes and concerns about their sport.
“I think most of the state could see football in some form this fall if the FHSAA doesn’t choose a one size fits all solution,” said St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) football coach Scott McDaniel. “Some areas of the state, where the virus is more prevalent, might need to be delayed or perhaps even not be able to play, but in those areas where the virus isn’t as active we might see teams playing close to a full schedule with precautions.”
The Wolves are scheduled to open up the regular season on Friday, August 21, at home against Bronson.
“I believe we will have football, but it may look different than what we are accustomed to,” said Bradford (Starke) football coach Brian Tomlinson, who enters his fourth season as head coach of the Tornadoes with three consecutive playoff appearances.
Eastside (Gainesville) Athletic Director Philip Crutchfield said he is “50/50 on if there will be a delayed start or full go.”
Union County (Lake Butler) volleyball coach Jordan Windham has a message for the FHSAA. She believes her sport can play in the fall.
Before @FHSAA makes a decision, I encourage them to contact the athletes, parents, and coaches that are affected! A LOT of schools are continuing workouts in various sports while following guidelines. @uchs_volleyball is happy to discuss the fall season! #letusplay #LetThemPlay
— Jordan Windham (@jordy9110) July 15, 2020
If there are no fall sports, it can have a negative impact on high school sports.
“My main concern is if the FHSAA doesn’t play, all the travel ball, club ball, and pay for play sports will be there,” said Newberry volleyball coach Hank Rone. “Kids will go somewhere and play. The kids that have the means to afford it.”
Couldn’t agree more. Club sports are all ready deeply embedded. A couple of missed seasons by high schools will give them a stranglehold on sports that could spell the end of the of HS athletics.
— Scott McDaniel (@scottmcdaniel98) July 15, 2020
Rone noted several sports have been playing in tournaments all over the state since Florida opened.
“AAU volleyball started this week in the Orlando Convention Center and they are coming from all over,” he said.
While some feel there is too much of a risk to play, one thing that almost all can agree upon is that high school sports are vital.
“High school athletics are important for kids, schools, and communities,” said McDaniel. “We must do everything we can to make it happen, if we can do it safely.”
That will be among the biggest questions. Can schools make it safe for athletes to play?
“High School sports means so much more to a lot of communities in the state,” added Rone. “We have to put in stuff to be as safe as we can. I totally get that.”
The FHSAA has a tough decision on Monday.
Based on the fact that it’s a ‘mandatory meeting,’ I would expect an announcment about the fate of fall prep sports in Florida.