Summit High School athletic director, coaches discuss possibilities for camps, practices and competitions
Tigers athletics to submit health proposal to Summit County
DILLON — As Summit High School Athletic & Activities Director Travis Avery drafts a proposal to take the first step in restarting high school sports workouts amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, he and Tiger coaches on Tuesday shared their latest thoughts and considerations on the return of school sports.
That included discussions on everything from how conditioning and skills workouts could look, to scheduling and facilities considerations when sports return, to the idea of intramural leagues if the state’s high school sports governing body doesn’t give the green light next school year.
“Any sort of competition for kids is going to be great to give them something to do other than sitting at home,” Tigers head football coach James Wagner said. “There are so many great aspects of sport: learning life lessons, the social aspect, creating a brotherhood. We hope to give them something to look forward to.”
The Colorado High School Activities Association late last week gave localities the thumbs-up to have discretion over their local teams beginning June 1. In the wake of that, Avery said he hopes to finish drafting a proposal this week that would need to be approved by the Summit School District superintendent and the county’s public health department for any types of gatherings this summer.
If approved, Avery said, it’s likely Tiger athletes would be outside in small groups — something like one coach and five to eight players in a group on one side of the high school turf while another coach with the same amount of players is on the other side. Avery, Wagner and Tigers girls rugby head coach Karl Barth said coaching could be limited to outdoor strength and conditioning as well as skills drills at first. An example Wagner gave was a small group of lineman lifting together with a coach before rotating to lineman-specific skills work while a quarterback and a handful of receivers could work on passing plays and routes, wearing gloves and masks.
“Coaches may have to get a little creative and go, ‘I’m going to practice tackling but only using dummies. And instead of a group of kids cycling through one dummy, we pull five dummies out, and five kids work with one dummy,'” Avery said. “Then you wipe down the dummies between session two and get five more kids in there.”
Thinking further into summer, Avery said if Summit County entered into the third stage of its Roadmap to Recovery, that could be a time when more free play, scrimmaging and contact could be permitted.
But the unknown timeline of it all makes the logistics that much more challenging for Avery, especially with novel coronavirus information and recommendations changing on what feels like a day-to-day basis.
In July the Tigers football team typically has a summer camp, which might have to be void of tackling or incorporate an element of virtual video conferencing for installing plays, Wagner said. Rugby head coach Karl Barth was hoping to take his team to a tournament in Arkansas the same month. Barth said that trip’s unlikely to happen and that his annual Thursday night drop-in informal scrimmages might have to become more of a skills session.
Traditionally, it’s August when athletes return for tryouts and practices. CHSAA already has said if Gov. Jared Polis doesn’t have students return to school buildings come fall, state-sanctioned sports likely won’t happen. That uncertainty leaves Avery and the coaches in a tricky spot, and so much could change.
If you listen to the chatter in the Colorado high school sports community, those changes could include fall sports delayed to next spring or no CHSAA-sanctioned sports at all. If it comes to hosting fall sports, like football, in the spring with sports like baseball and lacrosse, Avery said it would be a logistical quandary — from spring snow, to facilities, to referees to students torn between teams — that would be near impossible to solve. There just aren’t enough fields and not enough time in the day.
“It’s certainly a complicated puzzle,” Avery said.
If a CHSAA season doesn’t happen, Wagner and Barth are already thinking about intramural possibilities such as flag football and flag rugby where traditional teammates would play against one another, if that’s permitted. In recent weeks, the coaches have kept in touch with their players digitally, sharing words of wisdom. They understand how much sport and the social fabric it brings means to their kids, hence Wagner already thinking up a way to have a Summit High intramural football league where his team captains can draft, and even trade, classmates to different teams while playing a one-day-a-week season.
“So the opportunity is still there to learn and play and get better,” Wagner said. “Because, eventually, this will all end. So learn and prepare to get better in case we have a season, and the only way to do that is to play and compete, even if it’s against one another.”
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