Area Coaches React to Fall Sports Getting the Green Light in Regions 6, 8
With the MHSAA and its Representative Council announcing Thursday that volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming and diving competitions may begin in Regions 6 and 8 on Friday, Aug. 21, MISportsNow caught up with area coaches to get their reactions.
“I was really happy to not have to contact my kids and say our season either ended or postponed,” Leland volleyball coach Laurie Glass said.
“Coaches and players are going to find a way to get games in,” added Traverse West boys soccer coach Matt Griesinger. “We’ve kind of become the center of the state for a quick second.”
Volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming and diving programs in remaining regions (1-5, and 7) can continue outdoor practice, pending further executive orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, but are unable to host events. Those teams can travel to Regions 6 and 8 for competition.
“I have lots of friends in the south who are really good coaches in strong programs,” Glass said. “If they want to come north, I will do my best to find a gym to make that happen.”
Mt. Pleasant is one of those schools that can continue with outdoor practices but will be unable to host events.
“Today’s announcement kind of put us in the same window of we’re just going to take it week by week, day by day and go with the flow, so to speak,” Mt. Pleasant swim and dive coach Eric Beckman said. “Hope that maybe the governor will open up the pools and we’ll get that opportunity to swim.”
“We do need some more guidance for schools that are downstate,” MHSAA media and content coordinator Geoff Kimmerly said. “Those schools are not in the phase yet they need to be, those areas, to have competition. So it was really important to give our council to give the teams the opportunity that have the opportunity to play.”
Attendance for volleyball events in Regions 6 and 8 will be limited to 250 people or 25% of a facility’s capacity. Indoor pools for Regions 6 and 8 will have a 25% capacity. Outdoor competitions in Regions 6 and 8 may have 500 people of 25% capacity. Capacity for all three sports includes all participants, officials and school and game personnel, media and fans.
“It’s going to be a numbers game and every AD is going to look at how they do this,” bear Lake athletic director and MHSAA Representative Council member Karen Leinaar said. “We’re going to be the magicians. We’re going to adjust. We’re going to make this work.”
In addition to Thursday’s decision on fall sports, the MHSAA also issued guidelines for voluntary out-of-season contact dates for springs sports and football.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, all spring sport teams are allowed 16 voluntary, out-of-season contact dates with players and coaches until Saturday, Oct. 31. Football teams may schedule their contact days from Monday, Aug. 24 through Saturday, Oct. 31.
“The opportunity here is for us to continue to get bigger, faster, stronger as a team,” Cadillac football coach Cody Mallory said. “We get six more months to work together as a team. That whole mental aspect is a big deal.”
“I was on the zoom call with the MHSAA with the high school baseball coaches association board, and we were talking about trying to get a week where we could do a tryout so we could hit the ground running in the spring, so this is more than a week,” added Rudyard baseball coach Billy Mitchell. “I’m pretty happy about it.”
Football athletes are also permitted to participate in only one football season per academic year. Students who move out of the state to participate in football will not be permitted in the spring 2021 football season in Michigan.
The MHSAA plans to release a calendar for football in spring 2021 later this fall. The MHSAA and its Representative Council are scheduled to meet again next week.