P.J. Prioleau is back for Radford High School this season after a knee injury knocked him out of the lineup last year, but he will have to wait till February 15 before he takes the field under a plan approved by the Virginia High School League.
By Marty Gordon
Call it a quick fix, but the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Monday approved by a 34-1 vote a plan to condense all high school sports into a December to June window.
Dubbed the Condensed Interscholastic Plan, it means high school winter sports would tentatively start December 14 and spring sports would end June 26. Fall sports would fall in a short window between the two.
VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said after the vote, “We all understand the physical and mental health benefits of getting our students back to a level of participation. The Condensed Interscholastic Plan leaves open the opportunity to play all sports in all three seasons if Virginia moves beyond Phase III and/or Phase III guidelines are revised and High Risk Activities are allowed.
“This plan also allows schools the opportunity to open the year and get school started and deal with issues such as schedules, academic plans, transportation and possible outbreaks of COVID in the school,” Haun said.
The three-season model sets up the following schedule:
Season 1 (winter) Dec. 14 – Feb. 20 (first contest date – Dec. 28) basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swim/dive, wrestling.
Season 2 (fall) Feb. 15 – May 1 (first contest date – March 1) cheer, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, volleyball.
Season 3 (spring) April 12 – June 26 (first contest date – April 26) baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field.
Haun said there could be some adjustments on the exact dates as school moves forward. In taking a look at Monday’s decision, the executive director said this was one that everyone took very seriously.
“If a sport is found to be high-risk, we will continue to work with each organization in this matter,” he said.
Haun admitted the condensed schedule will depend on how the state as a whole moves forward with school opening.
The condensed schedules present all sorts of problems for athletic directors. Teams would play approximately 60% of a regular season schedule with some overlap in the seasons.
Working in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (DOE), the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) has developed a list of recommended guidelines for schools as they prepare for the safe reopening of high school sports and activities.
“The VHSL will continue to work closely with the best available information and directives provided by the Governor, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).” Haun said.
He is optimistic that coaches, athletic directors and schools will be able to keep student-athletes engaged as we move forward.
In the mix, there is also the question of how VHSL will deal with playoffs and possible state championships. “I can’t give you an answer on that right now,” Haun said.
Current guidelines would set the maximum number of fans at 250 for each event. Haun said each individual school will have to monitor student athletes to watch for any COVID-19 incidents and will maintain their local protocols.
The VISAA, which conducts state championship events for private schools in Virginia, has already announced it would not be sanctioning any events this fall. In a statement, the VISAA said the vote not to hold fall championships was a unanimous one, and that a decision on winter sports would be made by early November.