Summit High sports teams resume on-site training together, with coaches
Transportation for away games is still up in the air
BRECKENRIDGE — Though dozens of Summit High School athletes were training together this week for the time first in months, challenges to compete remain.
This past week, student-athletes on the Tigers’ football, rugby, boys soccer, lacrosse and basketball teams met with coaches for the first time since the novel coronavirus pandemic and shutdown began. Conducted mostly outside, the preseason training sessions came days after outgoing Summit School District Superintendent Kerry Buhler debriefed the school board on new expectations specific to how high school sports could restart training.
Buhler told the board that Summit High Athletics and Activities Director Travis Avery had meticulously worked on a 13-page document, that set rules, regulations and protocols surrounding school sports training sessions for the summer. The school did not need explicit approval from Summit County Public Health for the resumption of activities as Avery outlined — only approval from the district’s legal and insurance counsel.
“It’s really talking about these kinds of things: What are the expectations for kids this summer? What does cleaning look like? And what does it look like if someone is ill?” Buhler said.
For outdoor sessions, similar to the county’s public health order, Tiger athletes are limited to groups of 25. After wearing a face covering to the session, and after a health screening that includes questions and a temperature check, athletes are permitted to undertake training without a face covering if they are physically distanced 6 feet from others.
For indoor practices, such as for basketball in the Summit High School gymnasium, the cap on the number of athletes is 10.
“We are progressing along. … We are trying to start it slow as it were and kind of figure it out, just cause it’s new for everybody,” Avery said Saturday morning.
Other virus-related health protocols mostly cover skill and fitness work. Avery said anything similar to a scrimmage-like setup will be conducted without full contact. As of now, all sessions are also limited to one hour in length. After practices athletics staff must sanitize and clean areas and items that were part of the training sessions.
Avery sees the resumption of practices as an important development for student athletes who may have missed some of the structure and connections that school provides.
“For the kids, it’s having something connected to school that is important,” Avery said. “Having structured opportunity is important. Kids can come and be connected and see each other and coaches. We know kids are hanging out in the world. We get it. This, at least, is a structure thing connected to school which a lot of them missed more than I think they thought they would this spring.
“And the other thing, particularly for the fall sports, it gives them an opportunity (to improve their fitness and skills),” Avery continued. “Because we still have a lot of unknowns about fall, but at least they can still start working on it a little bit. They can ease into things. Some kids have been working out, following online workouts, but there’s also a group of kids who probably haven’t done much. They can set goals and be involved in a process.”
Summit’s resumption of sports training sessions came a week after the Colorado High School Activities Association — the governing body for high school sports across the state — announced in a statement that as of now they intend to have fall sports resume with originally-scheduled practice dates in early and mid August and competition dates in mid-to-late August.
With that on the horizon, Avery said he’s currently moving forward under the idea that sports will happen in the fall. Schedules are mostly done, the process of assistant coaching hires is moving forward and he’s dialing in a plan for online registration.
That said, he knows things are subject to change. He’s cognizant some data points to a potential spike of the virus in Colorado in August, which could change restrictions.
He’s also focused on how transportation could work. As of now, the district cannot put more than about a dozen kids on a bus. Along with that posing problems for in-person schooling, it’s a huge hurdle for athletics, especially in the fall. Summit High’s smallest fall season teams have 40 kids on them, and Avery said the department doesn’t have the capacity to run four buses or more for a game.
“There are some kind of, not dead ends as it were, but box canyons of logistical challenges that unless there is some movement on those restrictions will present some hurdles we’d have to figure out how to solve,” Avery said. “… Everybody wants to do something. But we’ve got to see where we are in a month’s time.”
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