Each time I've talked to a coach or activities director, they have tried to stay positive about prep sports returning in the fall. Owatonna Activities Director Marc Achterkirch said his department will be prepared for sports to start August 17 if that's allowed. The decision on whether students will return to class will likely be made by late July. State health officials advised schools to be ready for any of three scenarios.

Possibilities include in-person class, distance learning, and a mix of the two according to a story in the Star Tribune. The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) suspended sports in line with no in-person classes during the spring season. That led to the eventual cancellation of the spring prep season in addition to the state boys basketball tournament and the final two days of the girls tourney.

Even if class resumes for students, that doesn't guarantee sports will all start on time, or in their entirety. MSHSL executive director Erich Martens told a group of AD's this week, "it's less likely [sports] will be all-or-nothing, if there is school. Depending on risk level, I believe we could have a differentiated approach."

In a Star Tribune report, Martens indicated the league's approach would be based on the Minnesota Department of Health's rankings of sports as low, medium, and high risk. He said, "Those in the low-risk category category are sports we might be doing."

Fall sports that fall into the low risk category include cross country, singles tennis, individual swimming, and clay target shooting. Medium risk sports are volleyball, soccer, double tennis, and swimming relay races. Football falls into the high risk category.

High school athletes just began summer workouts this week with social distancing guidelines.

During the Owatonna rolling athletic awards coaches caravan in late May, I asked Huskies football coach Jeff Williams about the football season. He used the words "nervous" and "optimistic" to sum up his feelings at that point.


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