Some questions have been answered.
Golf is a go.
“It’s a big relief, honestly,” Central Hardin boys’ and girls’ golf coach Paul Gray said. “Everybody is very uncertain about a lot of things in life right now.”
The green light means that the Lady Bruin Invitational will tee off July 31 at Elizabethtown Country Club.
“We count on that revenue for our program to play in other tournaments and have a season,” Gray said. “I didn’t know what would happen if they backed up the start date, if we would have funds available to participate like we do. It was a big decision for us personally and for golf in general.
“Golf has a pretty short window in which to play. You can play football in the cold and rain, play soccer in the cold and rain, and run cross country in the cold and rain. You can’t do that in golf. You get to the first week in October when the state tournament is and it’s hard to play past that.”
Gray understands that just because the golf season will start on time does not mean anything past that.
“Things could change and golf could get shut down,” he said. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty with all the other sports.”
There are still questions to be answered, though, with golf.
“Everything is open and running as far as golf is concerned,” Gray said. “The AJGA, Hurricane Tour and Bluegrass Tour have been playing, along with the PGA Tour have gone on without spectators. But we still have a lot of things to iron out locally. The KHSAA said we must follow Golf House Kentucky protocols and procedures.”
In addition to implementing those guidelines, golf tournaments must also traverse whether the golf courses they play will have bunker rakes. Will anything be in the cups so players don’t have to reach down to retrieve their ball? Will it be a shotgun start or tee times? Will tournaments be limited to the number of participants, which may then affect all-state points and the coaches association state tournament?
The KHSAA Board of Control met Friday and decisions were made regarding fall sports.
While golf is good to go, football, volleyball, soccer and cross country were put on a hold through Aug. 2.
“I’m not very surprised,” Elizabethtown Athletic Director Glenn Spalding said. “It pretty much went like I thought it would go. I’m not surprised golf was allowed to start as normal because it’s pretty obvious that it’s the easiest sport right now to social distance and follow guidelines.”
Friday’s decision means all activity through Aug. 2 is voluntary and tryouts may not be held until Aug. 3. Athletes are limited to six hours of practice per week and football teams will not use helmets or pads.
“In light of everything going on, I thought it was very positive,” LaRue County Athletic Director David Dawson said. “I appreciate the effort the KHSAA and the Board of Control made to make this a priority. They obviously want to make the effort to have fall sports. That was crystal clear. They’re trying to get something done. I’m glad they’re gonna continue to stay at least in the Segment 3 portion where programs can workout and we can all move forward to hopefully have a fall season.”
Cross country is a sport some thought would also get the green light.
“It would have been nice to get a clarification. It’s an err on the side of caution,” Central Hardin boys’ cross country coach Tim Pennington said. “I look back at hosting some of our biggest races, and you take a day at the fairgrounds and altogether you could have 3-5,000 people there — athletes, coaches and spectators — throughout the day. That’s a pretty large gathering. In my mind, I’m thinking I’m concerned about where we’re going sooner rather than later. Our first race is Sept. 12 at the fairgrounds and we need to start making plans. We have to get a lot of things lined up.”
As much as everyone expects fall sports in Kentucky to move forward with everything that was said in Friday’s meeting, the bottom line right now is things are in limbo for every sport but golf.
“They said they expect things not to look the same in the fall, but what does that mean,” Pennington asked. “Everything changes on a weekly basis and sometimes daily and that kind of makes it tough for everybody. It would have been nice to get a little bit of clarification on what they’re thinking.”
For now, it’s sit and wait ... and practice.
“If they make a decision (on July 28) then that definitely helps me out in planning the event, although I may not be able to do everything I hoped for,” Pennington said. “They’re probably going to limit the size or the number of teams we can hose, and I’ll be fine with that as long as we get a season. This whole period of waiting is tough on everyone. Other coaches I’ve talked to are anxious about it. They’re not sure what to do moving forward or with planning. No one wants to outlay any money they can’t get back as well.
“We just started practice back this week (Wednesday) and now with the six-hour limit, basically what we’re trying to do is teach fundamentals so when we’re not with them they can do things as a cross country runner alone. If athletes are dedicated enough, they train on their own or call a teammate and go on a run in a safe manner. They don’t have to be in large groups to get something done.”
John Hardin girls’ soccer coach Erik Krivitsky said he also wasn’t surprised by Friday’s outcome.
“I was hoping to get to go a little more free in practice,” he said. “But I think when you look at how the country and the state are reporting cases at an increase, and you have vacations plus the 4th of July, the kids are the most important. It makes sense to continue what we’re doing. Looking back, I think we might have overdone it, but I also think that I would rather have overdone it that not done enough.”
Krivitsky said he and the coaching staff have not made a decision on how to implement the six-hour week.
“We’re still talking about what’s best for the girls,” he said. “We’ve already adapted. At the three-week mark we changed we were doing, changed the conditioning program and felt we made it a little more challenging because we’re in pretty good shape. We’re pushing them a little more and it’s bringing out some competitive fire out of them within their pods.
“We’ve done more individual skill work than we ever had with a team this old. The kids might not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. Their skill work is more difficult because they need it. They’re used to what we do and they understand the expectations and this time has been good. We separated the kids evenly and did not stack one group over another and it was probably the best decision we made. Leaders are popping out all over the place because they know they have to lead. They are rising to the top. This has been enjoyable because they kids are making it enjoyable.”
Meade County veteran boys’ soccer coach Matt Pollock was surprised at one thing that came out of the meeting.
“I did not anticipate the limit to six hours per week,” he said. “We have made progress on conditioning and were ready to go to the next level. I’m disappointed they did that. I anticipated us holding the restrictions as far as contact with the recent up-tick in cases. We have been doing such a good job with the restrictions that have been put in place.”
The first game is slated for Aug. 10.
“I have no questions that there will be a delay to start the season, with the six hour limit a week and the fact we haven’t had any contact yet, we haven’t gone 1-on-1 yet, and we’re really not in game shape at all,” Pollock said.
An Aug. 17 start?
“I’d be fine with that,” he said. “I don’t think we’d be 100 percent ready, but we’d be OK since we were able to build that foundation. It’s a good thing we’ve been able to build kids up. In a situation that’s important to my team, we’ve gotten a lot of skill work and conditioning in. Other teams that are more mature, they’re ready to start playing. They’re ready to go.
“I think everyone has done a good job maximizing the opportunities they have now. This delay has thrown everybody off on their planning. Everybody has to adjust on the fly. That’s the way it is right now. I’m happy to be outside with my players and the players are happy to be out, whether it’s conditioning or playing.”
For Fort Knox football coach Wes Arnold, it’s status quo.
“I was kind of expecting it. I thought that’s what they were gonna do because of everything going on and the upswing of cases,” he said of the decision. “I’m glad they are taking more time to make the big decision instead of rushing the decision to play or not to play. I think they’re doing it right.
“We’re still going to go three days a week for a little over an hour conditioning and doing basic stuff we’re allowed to do. We have so many non-football kids that we’re teaching the game of football. We won’t do anything extra because we don’t want the kids burnt out if we have a long delay. We go Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and give them a long weekend.”
Arnold, for one, hopes the season is pushed back and doesn’t just start with missed games being missed.
“I hope they push it back, our first three games are against non-district opponents and I think we can be real competitive in those games,” he said. “Missing out on that early confidence and being able to compete early would put us behind, I think. Our district is so tough. I hope they find a way to push it back.
“Ideally, I hope they push is back three weeks with a scrimmage. In my mind, a scrimmage allowed you to see what you look like against someone else.”
Athletic directors have a little more than two weeks to work on things before the red light/green light meeting.
“I have to work under the assumption that we’re gonna play,” Dawson said. “I have to make sure everything is in place when we do get the green light to proceed with fall sports — whether things are modified — that we are going to move ahead so when things are finalized we have a plan and we’re good to go. We have to make sure protocols are in place and fine tuned and we continue to monitor progress of our kids. We have to make sure coaches are practicing proper procedures. I’m meeting Monday with all the fall coaches, with the principal and athletic trainer.
“Things are going to look extremely different adhering to all the guidelines that are contingent to change. It’s just a different situation that we’re involved in and that we have to deal with. We have to learn as we go. There is a lot of communication on my part to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Spalding added, “From now to July 28 we’re going to brainstorm, what does a volleyball game look like from start to finish? What does a soccer match look like from start to finish? If they do make plans to have games and have competition, we want to be a little bit ahead in order to maintain the guidelines set forth by the CDC and the governor.
“Everybody will be in the same boat July 29 if this occurs. It’s not like you’re going to be calling ADs and asking them to switch (games). Everybody is going to have to do the same thing. We’re going to have to wipe the slate clean and start from there. I don’t want to get started doing something and have to completely scrap it.”
For Central Hardin Athletic Director J.C. Wright, it basically comes down to simple things.
“This is one step at a time, or two weeks at a time,” he said. “In all reality, this is here for all of us and we have to wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, stay socially distant and work to the point where we can have fall sports. It’s going to take all of us. All we can do as ADs, coaches, players or parents is to be mindful of what we have to do. We all have to do our part. We’ll do what we have to do inside of school for the kids and parents help us out on the outside in what takes place in their world. We have to do what we can.
“I’m an optimist, glass half-full guy. We have to continue what we are doing with our sports teams, giving them information and be in constant contact through e-mail or texting on what needs to be done. We have to continue running conditioning workouts and preach social distancing. We have to follow guidelines and be educated. We have to be ready to go when we get the OK to go.”