The next season for prep sports in Colorado, Season B, is set to begin with practice on Jan. 18 and most are simply happy there will be a season at all.
But being a Season B athlete — whether that be in ice hockey, skiing, girls swimming, wrestling, basketball or competitive spirit — is a bit more complicated in the Boulder County area where public health has imposed stricter guidelines than in most of Colorado’s other counties. The St. Vrain Valley School District, for example, is still waiting to find out if Centennial Pool will be open when the season begins.
For teams like Silver Creek, the Colorado High School Activities Association’s ability to secure variances from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in order to open the season in late January won’t matter much if they have nowhere to compete.
“We’re still holding our breath because we haven’t heard anything from the city about lifting any of the restrictions yet,” Silver Creek head coach Debbie Stewart said. “I’m excited that CHSAA got approved, but we’re still anxious to hear from Boulder County.”
Stewart and other coaches still hope additional variances get approved that will lighten the restrictions on high school sports in terms of things like participation and competition numbers. But any potential decision in that regard isn’t likely to come until early- or mid-January, if at all.
For now, local teams will simply continue to prepare for a season that will consist primarily of dual meets and won’t feature the big invitational meets a normal season would. Whereas before they were more or less an element of teams’ training schedules, a day or two during the week when they could race instead of simply work out, those dual meets will now be way more important than they were before.
“It’s just going to be a lot shorter so it’ll be a little tougher,” Stewart said. “Trying to make state is going to be a lot harder because we won’t have big invite meets like we have in the past. It’s hard to hit state times at dual meets so you’ll have to approach every meet with the intention of going a hundred and ten percent.”
Virtual meets, in which two teams will compete remotely at their own pools and the dual will be scored by comparing times online, are also an option that has been presented to teams. Since teams must secure officials for both sites and there is reportedly a shortage of officials already, the virtual option presents its own unique challenges.
While coaches were thrilled to get another week back when CHSAA announced the approved variances on Dec. 21, they have also had to pivot numerous times and prepare on the fly.
“It’s great that they get that week back in their season,” Broomfield head coach Emily Austin said. “So that is a good thing. It was a little shocking for me because, as a coach, you’re prepping and you have to start again. But you get a handle on it and it’s fine. The fact that the girls get to have an extra week in their season is what matters most.
“It is what it is and none of this has been easy. It’s going to be weird but we’re not alone in that. We’ll adjust and we’ll continue to compete to the best of our ability.”