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Prep coaches, district administrators react to news of Season B sports delay

No indoor sports until Feb. 1 at the earliest, CHSAA says

THORNTON, CO - Silver Creek High ...
Daily Camera file photo
THORNTON, CO – Silver Creek High School’s Kylie Dirks, at front, dives into the pool during the 4A 100-yard Butterfly Championship race on Wednesday at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center inThornton.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has made it virtually impossible to plan anything. With COVID-19 infection rates on the rise, too, high school sports in Colorado have been forced to pivot once again.

On Monday morning, less than 48 hours after the completion of Season A, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced that the start of Season B has been further delayed from its Jan. 4 target date.

Instead of beginning practices on that day, with competition then beginning on Jan. 7, the latest proposal submitted by the CHSAA to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has a Jan. 25 first-practice date and a Feb. 1 competition date.

If approved, the already-truncated season will be further shortened to just seven weeks. This change also affects Seasons C and D, which will be delayed and shortened consequently.

The announcement, impactful as it was, surprised very few members of a statewide community that has grown accustomed to staying on its toes.

“Patience is a virtue at this point,” Silver Creek swim coach Debbie Stewart said. “Up until a couple of days ago, I was afraid it was going to get canceled. I knew January fourth was a little unrealistic because that’s still the heart of the COVID-19 season. I went through last spring with the boys team not getting to have any season at all so the fact that they’re still trying to hold a season for us, I’ll take what I can get.”

CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann distributed a press release on Monday stating that the CHSAA and the CDPHE had been communicating up until late Sunday night. The CDPHE told CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green that Season B would not be permitted to begin on Jan. 4 and no variances would be given to CHSAA at this time, according to the release.

Jill Hunsaker Rye, the executive director of the CDPHE, added that these decisions are based on rising concern over increasing COVID-19 transmission both locally and nationally, that the Colorado School of Public Health estimating 1 in 40 Coloradans are currently infectious, and that potential strain on hospital capacity and expected further increases could be caused by holiday travel. Season B sports are predominantly played indoors and have to adhere to each county’s restrictions based on the Dial and many counties in Colorado are currently in “Level Red,” which prohibits indoor group sports.

Borgmann also said CHSAA officials plan to meet with CDPHE, as well as Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID Response Team, in mid-January to discuss variances for Season B. That’s encouraging news for those like Broomfield swim coach Emily Austin, who hopes pushing the season back might allow for some loosening of restrictions.

“We were kind of anticipating that this type of announcement would be getting made,” Austin said. “I think it is a wise choice because of people traveling and the uptick after Thanksgiving. I’m glad that it happened now because it helps me plan. I’m hoping that the later start might get us to a point where we have lesser restrictions because that would make everything a little better for the kids.”

Under the new proposal, Season B will span seven weeks between Feb. 1 and March 20. Season B sports are still boys and girls basketball, boys and girls skiing, boys and girls wrestling, girls swim and dive, ice hockey and spirit.

Season C – boys soccer, field hockey, girls volleyball, gymnastics, unified bowling and this year’s spring football campaign – will also be seven weeks long for all sports but football, starting competition on March 22 and ending May 8. Football will span nine weeks to match the fall season’s length and will have competition from March 15 to May 15.

Season D will include baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls track and field, boys swim and dive, boys volleyball, girls soccer, girls golf and girls tennis. With the exception of girls golf and tennis, the Season D sports will play a seven-week season from May 10 to June 26. To match the boys season in the fall, girls golf will play 10 weeks from April 19 to June 22. Girls tennis will play from April 26 to June 12.

Yet another adaptive alteration has been made to the Colorado preps calendar. While high school programs begin to rethink their plans yet again in today’s ever-changing environment, there’s reason to believe this change might not be the last.

“We’re saddened with the news that we’re continually having to limit opportunities for our kids,” St. Vrain Valley School District athletic director Chase McBride said. “But we have to keep in mind that our priority has to be the safety of the kids, so we have to trust the decisions of the people from the governor’s office and CDPHE. At every chance, we’ll continue to do our best to provide as many opportunities for our kids as we can.”

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