5 Questions About Fall Sports
The high school sports season for 2020-2021 is underway. But it feels much different. No volleyball or football this fall. Parents and fans are not allowed inside to watch girls swimming. Limits at outdoor venues for soccer, tennis, and cross country are 250. There are new limits on the number of events teams can participate in. Even whether or not there will be a postseason is yet to be announced by the Minnesota State High School League.
I spoke with OHS Activities Director Marc Achterkirch earlier this month, shortly after the announcement of the season's new guidelines on August 4. Some things were uncertain then. A few are still uncertain now. (What follows are excerpts of our interview.)
Roy Koenig (KRFO) : What's your reaction to what the Minnesota State High School League has voted for?
Marc Achterkirch: First of all, I think it's important we give credit to the Minnesota State High School League and the Board of Directors because I do not envy the position that those folks are in...Really happy and excited to hear that we are able to have fall activities. As well as all activities are going to have a spot this year. I know it's not ideal for everybody...There's alternatives where it could have been no activities at all...I'm just grateful that we have the opportunity to work with our kids.
Koenig: Schedules have to be reworked?
Achterkirch: So this fall we have girls' tennis, girls' swim and dive, girls' cross country, boys' cross country, boys' and girls' soccer but they've reduced everything....
(Cross country teams are limited to seven meets. The other sports are allowed 11 contests for the season. Find the updated Huskies' schedules at big9.org for other information on OHS activities, including a video message from Achterkirch, go to owatonnaactivities.com)
Koenig: What about the post season?
Achterkirch: ...We don't know what the culminating event might be. Whether it's a conference championship, a section champion, a state tournament, they really haven't indicated what our post season is going to look like.
Koenig: If a school district is on distance learning, what does that mean for athletics and activities?
Achterkirch: The distinction is, if a school district is in mandatory distance learning, then they have to go to virtual coaching as well. Meetings and activities is therefore halted...If a district is choosing voluntarily to do distance learning, then it's up to the district to determine whether they want to continue with their extra curricular's or not.
Koenig: Will there be testing of athletes, coaches, anything like that?
Achterkirch: The only testing that would occur at this point, is if a student had symptoms or was potentially exposed to someone else and was told to go get tested.
Koenig: What are the rules regarding fans attending fall activities?
Achterkirch: I encourage you to come and watch our soccer teams. And come and watch cross country and tennis. But please be mindful of social distancing...The more that we can wear masks when we're supposed to, whether we agree with it or not. If we can limit the number of incidents and we can keep those numbers down, we can keep our kids playing, keep our kids in school.
(Non-school personnel are not allowed inside school buildings. This means parents and fans cannot watch girls' swim and dive in person. Owatonna's meet are being streamed on OwatonnaLive.com. Limits for outdoor events are still stated at 250.)
I guess that was six questions, and there could have been many more.
In a follow up call to Achterkirch, he said the number of students signing up for sports is great. That includes the varsity teams this fall and for the football and volleyball training seasons that are being allowed by the MSHSL. He said soccer has four teams for both the boys and girls programs.
Keep up with the latest sports results and developments on the weekly AM 1390 KRFO Coaches Show which will begin on Saturday, September 5 at 9 am.