Wyoming fall prep sports season gets the go-ahead, with some major changes
The Wyoming High School Activities Association released a statement Tuesday afternoon announcing the fall sports season will begin as scheduled.
July 29, 2020
For the first time in months, Wyoming high school student-athletes finally have something to look forward to after the Wyoming High School Activities Association released a statement Tuesday afternoon announcing the fall sports season will begin as scheduled.
According to the release, “working in collaboration with the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Department of Education, the WHSAA’s Smart Start Fall Sports Guidelines were established and approved to return students safely to the six fall sports offered.”
No sanctioned high school sports have taken place in the state since early March because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Class 3A/4A state basketball tournament was the first to be canceled, with the spring soccer and track and field season following suit in April.
Since then, WHSAA commissioner Ron Laird and the WHSAA Board of Directors have been working tirelessly with state health officials to figure out how to avoid a similar fate befalling the six fall sports — cross country, football, golf, girls swimming, volleyball and tennis. Tuesday, the fall sports season became a reality.
“We put all those protocols in place and told the coaches they had to put together a plan and work with their local health officials,” Laird said. “And our schools did a great job.”
Laird said surveys were sent to each of the state’s high schools asking how many student-athletes had been screened, which involved coaches taking kids’ temperatures and having kids fill out forms regarding their general health. The response was impressive.
“We had a response from 45 schools and at that time there were more than 4,000 kids that had been screened with no sicknesses reported,” Laird said. “That showed the health department that we were taking this serious and we were putting the proper protocols in place.
“We realize this is just step one, but it’s a big step. Safety remains our No. 1 focus in all of this.”
Tuesday’s decision gave fall sports the green light to begin practices next month. Whether or not the seasons continue remains to be seen, but the WHSAA believes it has the proper protocols in place to make that a reality.
“This is not about the coaches or the fans or the family or any of us,” Laird said. “It’s about the kids. And we’re going to do everything we can to at least make sure the kids get to play. We know we might have to monitor and adjust as we go through the season, but we think we now have plans where we can do that.”
Not surprisingly, those plans are a lot different than what they have been in the past. The need to avoid large groups of people in one site along with the knowledge they have to recognize social-distance rules means each sport has its own set of protocols to adhere to.
“We’ve gone through and made a recommendation for each sport as to what the regular season is going to look like,” Laird said. “We’ve tried to reduce numbers as much as we could because most of the cases have been because of large gatherings. We knew we had to make some major adjustments and they weren’t going to be perfect and coaches weren’t going to like every one of them.