Fall sports teams ready for practices while observing COVID guidelines


Fairbanks High School soccer player Carly Lehman works to control the ball during a 2019 game. Fall sports teams are scheduled to begin practices on Saturday under coronavirus guidelines. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)

The countdown is on toward the start of preseason practices for Ohio high school fall sports teams.
Squads will be permitted to begin practices on Saturday.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has mandated regulations that teams must adhere to during the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing, sanitization and face masks are within the guidelines that have been established by the OHSAA and medical professionals.
One of the local teams that is scheduled to begin practice on Saturday is the Fairbanks High School girls soccer squad.
The Journal-Tribune spoke with veteran head coach Randy Spain about the precautions his team has taken during summer workouts.
“We’ve been doing everything within the guidelines we have received,” he said. “Our players wear masks when they check in for workouts and we do a health assessment on each girl.
“Our coaches wear masks during practices and players are to wear them when they aren’t on the field for conditioning,” said Spain. “We’re also social distancing as much as we can.”
The Lady Panther head coach expressed disappointment that the OHSAA has canceled all preseason scrimmages.
“However, I understand why they did it,” he said. “If we can slow down the virus by canceling scrimmages, we can hopefully get in our season.”
Spain said on Thursday the FHS team has not had anyone test positive for COVID-19.
“If any of the girls don’t feel well for any reason, they are to stay home from practice,” he said.
The fate of the high school fall sports season remains up in the air as teams begin practices.
“I think it’s too early to comment on that,” said Spain. “However, I have some real concerns if we were to completely shut down.
“If that happens, this would just be one more thing that youngsters would lose confidence in,” he said. “They want to play and be around their friends.
“I also think about the mental health aspect of the students,” said Spain. “Kids need to have interaction with other students.
“However, I support all of the protocols within the school district.
“We want to play, but everyone has to be smart about it,” said Spain.
The first high school season that is set to begin is golf, which is slated to start on Wednesday, Aug. 5, barring any type of further restrictions.
That will be followed by girls tennis on Aug. 7.
The boys and girls soccer seasons and girls volleyball campaigns may begin on Aug. 21, while cross-country and football may begin on Aug. 24.
All of those dates, however, will depend on whether there are any new virus restrictions.
The Journal-Tribune detailed guidelines for football in a story that appeared last week.
Some of the recommendations and considerations for additional fall sports are as follows:
-Prior to competitions, host schools will remain in contact with the host course and local health departments to determine guidelines that are in place;
-Teams are to arrive at courses as close to practice times as possible;
-Players must refrain from entering the clubhouse unless there are communicated entry points and restrooms are stated;
-Players should maintain social distancing;
-Golfers must use masks when it’s necessary to be in the clubhouse or in areas of close contact;
-Temperature checks and health assessments must be conducted;
-Players must sanitize upon arrival and maintain social distancing during the round and sanitize throughout the match.
-Sanitization and social distancing mandates will be enforced;
-Athletes will clean and wipe down their own equipment, including racquets and water bottles.
-No equipment will be shared;
-All players must adhere to face mask protocols when not playing in a match;
-Athletes may not shake hands or high-five a teammate;
-Players must leave the court as quickly as possible at the conclusion of their matches.
-Pregame conferences will be limited to the head or center referee, head coaches and a single captain;
-Ball holders are encouraged to social distance;
-A six-foot separation is encouraged for bench personnel and during substitution procedures;
-Face masks and gloves are permitted, but not mandated;
-Long sleeves and long pants are permitted for players.
-The protocol of teams switching benches and courts between sets has been suspended;
-Bench personnel should observe social distancing of three-to-six feet;
-Handshakes and fist bumps before and after matches are prohibited;
-Face masks are permitted;
-Line judges must supply their own flag;
-Athletes must not share water bottles.
-Social distancing of at least six feet should be maintained at all times. There will be no hugging, shaking hands or fist bumps for support and/or encouragement;
-Schools should consider widening the course to at least six feet at its narrowest point;
-Schools should consider using finish corrals and FAT timing (fully automatic timing) for larger meets as it is easier to distance at the finish;
-With no FAT timing system (in which times are automatically activated by the starting device), schools should consider alternative means of finish place and time to address congestion at finish lines;
-Schools should consider using image-based equipment at the finish of each race to assist with picking places to avoid congestion;
-Sanitization procedures should be encouraged.

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