And let the questions begin.
Not that they haven’t been flying around like a deep post, a volleyball kill, a 300-yard drive, a beautiful cross or a cross country coach racing from one area of the course to another to cheer on their runners.
“This is going to be an interesting path, to say the least,” LaRue County Athletic Director David Dawson said. “There are so many things to consider and discuss in order for this process to work efficiently.”
While the high school athletic world is eying the end of the eliminated dead period when fall sports can allegedly begin practice, athletic directors have coaches on all levels to corral and make sure everyone at least is reading from the same book.
“Initially, I will gather with the administration to make sure we are all on the same page, and work out a plan of action,” Dawson said. “Once we have a plan to go by I will introduce that to the coaches so they can begin making their plans on how to return. We will not be ready to proceed (on Monday), but at least we are headed in the right direction now that we have the green light to at least do something.”
The non-scheduled dead period that began March 13 because of COVID-19 was lifted Monday throughout the state.
“Hardin County Schools ADs and fall coaches are having a meeting Wednesday to discuss and make sure our middle and high schools are on the same page with our summer athletic activities,” Central Hardin Athletic Director J.C. Wright said. “KHSAA sent much of the responsibility to local school districts on handling summer athletic activities. Obviously, making sure we are following the Governor’s and KHSAA guidelines are top priority.”
One thing happening throughout the state is a higher level of communication.
“Every time some kind of information from the KHSAA came out, or some type of information came out that was different than what we knew, I sent an email to our head coaches and, in some case, all assistant coaches to make sure they were in the loop for potential changes,” Elizabethtown Athletic Director Glenn Spalding said. “In every email I said, ‘If you have any questions, please contact me. I may not have all the answers, but I’ll try to get you the answer.’ Coaches have called and they’ve all been pretty good.
“I feel I’ve tried to keep all the coaches and the administration in the loop — the superintendent, principal, assistant ADs, Dawne Swank and Ben Stewart at the middle schools and Carol George, our trainer. She’s going to be a vital part going forward. I’ve taken every opportunity I could to communicate with our people.”
Coaches can meet with players on campuses through June 14 with groups of 10 people or less and safety guidelines must be followed. There will be no practices in any sport during that time.
The KHSAA Board of Control voted 13-5 last week to eliminate the annual dead period, which had been scheduled from June 25-July 9
“This obviously is unlike any other year, but considering that we have been on a dead period for 2½ months, I totally agree that the Board of Control did the right thing in waiving it for this year only,” Dawson said. “Kids deserve to get out of the house and get reacclimated with their coaches and teammates as long as it is done within the health guidelines.”
“Talking with our coaches, our student-athletes are eager to get back on the field and courts,” Wright said. “The elimination of the dead period for this summer is a positive and has provided our kids more opportunity to get back with coaches and teammates. We realize summer workouts are going to look much different than any summer in the past. Just getting them back in some capacity will help players and coaches.
“We also understand that some families may have had vacations planned during the normal dead period time and encourage them to do so. Just having the opportunity to participate in summer athletics for some sports is so important and I hope our student-athletes will be able to take advantage of time back at school with teammates.”
Spalding added, “During the dead period we were just on, the KHSAA made an exemption that coaches could meet with kids virtually and send workouts and suggestions. During the regular dead period, there are no communications between coaches and players. The restriction was that you could only communicate with kids on your roster. That basically said until today our coaches could not talk to those incoming freshmen. Coaches are now allowed to communicate with those eighth-graders who are now incoming freshmen. That’s been a change.
“With the guidelines in place, there’s nothing a coach can do that would have anything to do with sports-specific activities — no ball and you can’t get in the gym. But, it’s also a great time to talk to student-athletes about physicals.”
Spalding said the green light was also given for sports and activities to begin fundraising at Elizabethtown.
One of the many tentacles of the pandemic is coaches and administrators thinking far outside the box.
“We’re adding a component on our website — Where are you going? — so our students can log into where they’re going inside the school just in case of a positive case, we have an idea where it might have come from,” Spalding said. “We’re trying to be as smart as we possibly can and do as best as we can do for the safety of our kids.”
Overall, the athletic directors are pleased with where things are heading, albeit slowly.
“The KHSAA was very adamant about local control, they want to make sure what’s good in Pike County is good for Pike County and what’s good in Hardin County is good for Hardin County,” Spalding said. “We’re trying to exercise common sense. We try to express to our coaches that when June 15 rolls around and we have kids back on campus, there are regulations we have to go by and some are pretty restrictive.
“They won’t be able to throw out the balls and have practice as normal.”
None of this has come at a pace like Usain Bolt in the 100.
It’s been more like the hare in the nursery rhyme.
“I am pleased with the direction and pace that the KHSAA and Board of Control have provided in allowing a return to play,” Dawson said. “Obviously, there is still some uncertainty, but I am glad that we now have some hope that athletics will return in some sort of fashion.”