All Contact Sports Allowed To Practice

By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

The prospect of having a fall sports season looked a little brighter on Thursday when Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that practice can begin Monday for contact sports.

“I’m happy we’re moving forward,” Roughriders girls soccer coach Nick Wilson said. “The girls are eager to play some soccer.”

Sports such as football, lacrosse, soccer and basketball can begin Phase 2 of DeWine’s Responsible RestartOhio initiative, allowing contact sports to conduct practice — including holding scrimmages and full training regiments as long as safety protocols are observed.

“The team was jacked when I shared the news,” St. Marys boys soccer coach Josh Hertenstein added. “Our captains have already scheduled weekly kickarounds and are ready to get going. I was glad to hear that our fine governor had made the announcement.”

Previously, only non-contact sports, such as baseball, softball, track and field and fall sports such as golf and tennis could hold full practices and competitions while contact sports could only condition. This new guideline would allow those contact sports to practice with contact within the rules of the game.

DeWine added that the decision to have contact sports hold practices will depend on local sports organizers and high school leaders on when it is the best time to proceed.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is always our No. 1 priority and concern,” Roughriders football coach Doug Frye said. “It is encouraging and makes us optimistic for the season.

“As coaches, we are excited to advance to the next step in our preparation.”

According to the governor’s guidelines, found at Coronavirs.Ohio.gov, contact practice and training may resume for all sports. Only intra-club/team scrimmages are permitted for contact sports and practices/open gyms should be limited in the same way wherever possible. However, competitive games and tournaments are permitted for non-contact sports only.

Wilson said the girls team will have a few open field practices with some scrimmaging next week before having some players compete in the Hogg Creek Soccer League on July 6.

“We are scheduled for two tournaments toward the end of July that should likely be permitted to take place if everything progresses accordingly,” Wilson added.

Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said Thursday evening on Twitter  that the association is working on an update regarding the governor’s guidelines and will be sending out info to member school administrators Friday morning. He clarified that scrimmages are only permitted as “intra-squad” and not between different schools or communities during Phase 2.

According to the guidelines, players, coaches, officials and athletic trainers must conduct daily symptom assessments and anyone experiencing symptoms must stay home. Athletic trainers must wear a face covering when attending to an injured player — preferably a medical-grade mask, with a few exceptions.

Six-feet social distance must be maintained between individuals except when on the field or court of play.

The guidelines state that physical contact is only permitted within the rules of the game during competitive practice. Players, coaches and officials are not to physically contact each other before or after competitive practice — such as greetings or high-fives. Other guidelines include limiting time spent on activities where players are in close proximity for extended periods of time, facilities/clubs/teams must ensure that facilities have adequate space for social distancing for players, coaches, officials, athletic trainers, parents/guardians and spectators off the field or court of play and no congregating before or after practices or games is permitted.

In regards to fall sports, golf and girls tennis have been allowed to practice since the day after Memorial Day as part of Phase 1 of the governor’s initiative. In volleyball, new St. Marys’ coach Caley Yoder posted on Facebook that the program has been holding non-mandatory open gyms throughout the month for high school girls and will be holding a junior high camp and open gyms next month.

In boys soccer, Hertenstein has had players work on conditioning as well as train with a pair of ex-Marines. Football has been conditioning and conducting workouts on the field in the mornings but can now progress with the new guidelines in place.