MHSAA delivers guidelines...for now.
Girls golf? Tee it up.
Boys tennis? Serve away
Cross Country? Take your mark.
Girls swimming & Diving? Take the plunge.
Football, volleyball, boys soccer?
Not so fast.
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association today approved the next steps in returning sports for member schools, adopting a plan to phase in competition for Fall sports in hopes of continuing to deter the spread of COVID-19.
In a press release the Council affirmed that lower-risk sports – Lower Peninsula girls golf, Lower Peninsula boys tennis and Upper Peninsula girls tennis, cross country and Lower Peninsula girls swimming & diving – may begin practice on Aug. 12 and begin competition on their traditional start dates of Aug. 19 and 21.
However, moderate and high-risk sports – football, girls volleyball and boys soccer – may begin practice but not competition. Decisions about competition timelines for these three sports will be made by Aug. 20.
Practice for boys soccer and girls volleyball may begin on Aug. 12. Football will delay the start of practice with full player pads and equipment until Monday, Aug. 17. The week of Aug. 10 may include football practice sessions consisting of conditioning, physical training and skill work with no other player equipment except helmets. This week of acclimatization is similar to allowed summer football activities that have been ongoing for schools since June.
The Council also voted to cancel scrimmages in all Fall sports for this school year and approved limitations on numbers of teams that may compete together at regular-season tournaments, invitationals and other multi-team events. The Council believed eliminating scrimmages emphasized the importance of keeping teams from mixing before the first date of competition, and the regular-season limitations may lessen opportunities for viral spread while still allowing meets to be conducted.
As this remains a fluid situation, the MHSAA would release updated timelines for competition for football, girls volleyball and boys soccer by Aug. 20 dependent on how the spread of the virus is trending statewide. Plans remain reliant on sustained metrics measuring virus spread and/or progression by schools and regions across the state according to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan. Currently two regions are in Phase 5, which allow for limited indoor activity, while the rest are in Phase 4 and unable to host indoor training, practice or competition.
The start of volleyball and swimming & diving practices are in part contingent on the reopening of indoor facilities. Those sports may begin their practices outdoors if not allowed to be indoors by Aug. 12.
“The Council, reflecting on the positive impact on their athletes this summer from taking part in offseason training, feels it’s of utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “If we take a month off, our students will find opportunities to compete through non-school entities that may not be as focused on safety. Our athletic directors and coaches can provide the safest-possible environment to return to sports, and this phased-in approach to competition will help schools continue building on progress already made.
“The Council chose to make these adjustments to help ensure our athletes have a safe regular season this fall. As we continue to solidify the regular season, we can then turn our attention to building a safe postseason for our athletes.”
The MHSAA also has posted sport-by-sport guidance documents outlining increased precautions designed to limit the viral spread, plus a four-page overview with precautions that apply generally for all sports and include coverage of the following topics:
Specific sport guidelines and the overview are available on the respective sport pages of the MHSAA Website, all linked from https://www.mhsaa.com/sports. Recommendations on spectator attendance will follow before the start of competition; spectators will be limited in accordance with Governor Whitmer’s executive orders on large gatherings.
The Council on July 17 approved a return-to-activity plan for the 2020-21 school year retaining the traditional calendar of Fall, Winter and Spring sports, but allowing for the possibility that Fall sports forced to halt activity during the next four months may conclude later in the school year.
“The easy way out would be to postpone all activity to next spring, and we are not taking the easy way out. But we will make wise decisions based on medical guidance,” Uyl said. “We will make these difficult decisions quickly and appropriately. If we don’t play this fall, it won’t be because we didn’t make every effort to do so.”
MHSAA Announces Fall Sports Will Kick Off 2020-21 School Year as Traditionally Scheduled.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – July 17 – Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools will begin the 2020-21 school year playing Fall sports as traditionally scheduled, but with contingency concepts for potential interruptions due to the spread of COVID-19.
The MHSAA Representative Council, the Association’s 19-member legislative body, met virtually with MHSAA staff Wednesday (July 15) to discuss a series of ideas for playing sports beginning in August. The Council will meet again July 29 for further discussion. Currently, high school football practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 10, with all other Fall sports to start practice Aug. 12.
The MHSAA is moving forward with a plan that first calls for all Fall sports to be started and played as scheduled. However, if the situation deems it necessary, the start of some or all Fall sports practices or competitions could be delayed. The next step in the plan’s progression calls for lower-risk Fall sports that can be played to be completed, with higher-risk Fall sports postponed until later in the school year. If all Fall sports must be suspended, they will be rescheduled during a reconfigured calendar that would see Winter sports begin in November followed by the conclusion of Fall and Spring seasons potentially extending into July 2021.
Additionally, the Council considered a concept that would swap traditional Fall and Spring sports, but determined that was not a feasible plan. Football, girls volleyball, girls swimming & diving and boys soccer during the Fall are considered moderate or high-risk sports because they include athletes in close contact or are played indoors; they were considered the impetus for potentially switching all Fall sports to Spring. But traditional Spring sports – girls soccer and girls and boys lacrosse – carry similar risk, negating the value of making that full season switch. Moving only selected Spring sports, like all low-risk to Fall, was not considered sound because it would force student-athletes to pick between sports they’ve previously played.
Plans remain reliant on progression by schools and regions across the state according to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan. Currently two regions are in Phase 5, which allow for limited indoor activity, while the rest are in Phase 4 and unable to host indoor training, practice or competition.
“Our student-athletes just want to play, and we’ve gone far too long without them playing. But doing so safely, of course, remains the priority,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Our plan moving forward is Fall in the Fall, starting on time. We’re excited to continue moving forward to bring back sports safely. It’s important for keeping students in our schools and keeping students in our sports programs.
“We remain grateful to the Governor for the opportunity to build the schedule and policies for returning sports to schools. We will continue to support her directives and those of the state and local health departments as we work to create the safest environment for all involved in our activities.”
The MHSAA staff is building COVID-related policies for all Fall sports and will make those guidelines and precautions available to member schools as the season approaches. Those policies will follow up what was presented to schools for summer offseason training, which began June 1 across the state and has seen thousands of student-athletes participate.
The Grace Christian University women's basketball staff is excited to welcome Avery Curnett, a 5'2" guard from Fremont High School. Avery is the daughter of Alyshia and Jaycee Curnett, and a sister to Andrew, Jayden, and Tyler.
Under Head Coach Wes Zerlaut at Fremont High School, Avery was a two-year impact player on the varsity team, capping things off as a senior leading her team to their first conference championship in 40 years. As a junior, she received the "Lady-Packer" Award, which is given to the team's "best teammate."
"Avery consistently played excellent on-ball defense, often defending one of the opponent's best guards," said HS Coach Wes Zerlaut. "She also showed a knack over her two year varsity career of putting the ball in the basket in key situations."
Aside from basketball, Avery also played soccer and volleyball, ran cross country, and was a part of school orchestra. Even with all the extra-curricular activities, Avery succeeded greatly in the classroom, earning "Summa Cum Laude" with a 3.98 GPA and also earning a spot in the heralded National Honors Society.
"I chose Grace to pursue my athletic and academic career because I fell in love with the team, coaches, and everyone else involved," said Avery. "Not only this, but also the campus and other parts of the school. I felt so welcomed when I visited and met so many people that made it feel like home. Grace has offered me so many opportunities to better my future."
Avery joins a strong recruiting class for the Tigers, which will provide depth with a solid returning core from their 2020 NCCAA Final Four squad which includes another former Fremont High School standout - Bre Harris.
The Grace Christian University Men's Basketball staff is excited to announce the addition of Tristan Campbell to their strong 2020 recruiting class. Tristan, a 6'9" forward from Fremont, MI, is the son of Donald and Carri Campbell, and a brother to Evan, Wyatt, and Nolan.
"We are really excited to have Tristan with us for next season," said Grace Head Coach Gary Bailey. "I have been looking forward to working with Tristan since we first started recruiting him. He is one of those kids that probably doesn't realize how good he can be if he puts in the time. He has all the skills to be a really special player. At 6'9" He can shoot the three and post you up. We can't wait to get started with Tristan."
Tristan averaged 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game for the Fremont Packers in his senior campaign. To finish his career, he helped lift his team to a district championship game after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in their first two playoff wins, but the season was then cut short due to COVID-19. Tristan went on to receive Muskegon Area Dream honorable mention.
"Coach Bailey came off as a great guy and he is definitely the type of person I want to play for," said Tristan. "The atmosphere when I met the team was very accepting and I can't wait to play with them."
Off the court, Tristan plans to pursue an undergraduate degree from Grace with the intention of continuing towards a Chiropractic doctorate degree.
Paige Vandenberg, a force in the paint for the Packers during her high school career, will bring her game to Hope this coming season. While collecting all conference and all area honors for her play on the court Paige also was named to the Academic All State team courtesy of a 4.0 GPA.
In her junior year she posted a solid season and excelled during two hard fought overtime wins over Grant and Newaygo averaging 17 points and 11 boards in those contests.This past season she was part of a spirited sprint to the CSAA title ending a 40 year drought for the Pack. In a dramatic home victory over league favorite Big Rapids, Vandenberg led her team with 14 points and pulled down a key rebound in the final minute off a missed foul shot that helped secure the win. Later in the season when facing a Tri County team on a 6 game winning streak she ruled the paint with 17 points 13 rebounds and 4 blocked shots as Fremont continued their title run.
And now she will be heading for Holland trading in the Red and White of Fremont for the Orange and Blue of Hope.
The Flying Dutch Girls basketball team has a long and storied history highlighted by a deep seated rivalry with Calvin. Under the tenure of Coach Brian Morehouse the Dutch have not finished lower than second since his inaugural season (96-97) when they placed 4th and since then have secured 15 MIAA titles, won 35 postseason contests and notched a National Title along the way. More importantly his teams have forged a 41-22 record against the Knights including a current 8 game winning streak. This past season an undefeated Hope team had just gotten past their first two tourney opponents when the season shut down due to the pandemic.
Paige is the daughter of Jeff and Jami Vandenberg.