Summit Tigers coaches, athletes feel disappointed by season postponements but confident in virus precautions |

Summit Tigers coaches, athletes feel disappointed by season postponements but confident in virus precautions

Summit High School cross-country runners jog together at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area at Tigers practice on Tuesday, Aug. 18
Photo by Antonio Olivero /

DILLON — Summit High School football head coach James Wagner said if there’s one thing he’s drilled into Tigers players through this tumultuous offseason, it’s to always be grateful for the opportunity to play — wherever that is, whenever that is.

“You never know if it’s going to get taken away from you,” Wagner said. “Out of this whole thing, that’s the piece that’s magnified to me: that all of this can be taken away from you in an instant. Be grateful to be part of the team and the season, no matter how big or small it is.”

What a time period of surfing emotions it’s been for the football and sports world, Summit High School included. Just a few weeks ago, the Tigers were putting finishing touches on summer camp and felt great about the upcoming season and gameplay despite the coronavirus pandemic. The Colorado High School Activities Association earlier this summer also was planning to resume fall sports, including football. But after CHSAA changed its plans, postponing contact fall sports to spring, football entered an unprecedented situation: The season would be shortened by three games and pushed to March.

At Summit High, Wagner said his players felt safe enough to return to their fall plan of a full season. At summer training sessions, workouts and camp practices, Wagner said no one was reported sick and everyone was healthy as the team carried out COVID-19 precautions. Those rules included a limit of 25 people on a field surface at once, temperature checks and physical distancing.

“Were we bummed? Absolutely,” Wagner said. “Were we all ready to play in the fall? Yes. But we are happy about the chance to play in the spring. We were definitely in a position where we felt ready to go. We felt safe while we were on the field. There were no complaints about any of it. But it’s not our call. We have to respond to what CHSAA decided to do, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

With the season delayed to spring, Wagner said the program plans to do strength and conditioning four days a week through the fall out on the high school field, as the weight room remains closed. There also will be noncontact practice one day a week when players can suit up in helmets but no pads. Wagner said the sessions can include skill work on pads but not full contact between players. This new plan for the fall, Wagner said, comes after he and other schools looked into interschool gameplay, but that was shot down by CHSAA.

The team, Wagner said, also will stay connected through the fall with team activities, such as a kickball game or a beach day on Dillon Reservoir, every other week. The football coach sees this time as an opportunity for teammates and coaches to build relationships.

Between now and March, he said he’s emphasizing to his players — who he knows will be spending time together with classmates and friends — to be smart about their social decision-making in an effort not to get sick.

“We can only control what each day gives us, so control each day,” Wagner said.

The boys soccer season also has been delayed to March. Tigers boys soccer head coach Tommy Gogolen said although many members of the program were disappointed the season was postponed, “there’s plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.”

“It’s an opportunity to come into the season a little more unified, in shape and sharp,” Gogolen said. “The game plan is we are going to stay connected through the fall. It’s a little bit of an unknown how much we are going to be practicing, but we have received approval from the school and are allowed to practice.”

Gogolen said most of the team’s players and parents understood “what’s at stake” with the virus. He said he and the team aren’t worried about the possibility the soccer season — which has been cut down to 10 games from 15 — could be further postponed or canceled due to virus concerns.

He said the team looks at March soccer at Summit High as a huge homefield advantage with the possibility of winter weather. Gogolen said the soccer program might opt for intramural competitions like the rugby program plans to host.

As for those Tiger athletes who will be able to compete, cross-country sophomore Dom Remeikis said he feels confident athletes like him will be safe at competitions this fall. Teammate Alice Wescott said she’s grateful there will be a fall season though changes will limit runners at meets. Wescott said her biggest worry is getting shut down again but added that the team is being very careful, wearing masks during warmups and team meetings.

Cross-country and boys golf are the only school teams that will play this fall.

“I think CHSAA has done good job with the precautions,” Remeikis said. “The school and athletic director are also making sure it’s implemented, and I think it will be a pretty good season with all the precautions set in place. I feel really confident about this.”

Summit High cross-country runners jog together at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area at Tigers practice on Tuesday, Aug. 18
Photo by Antonio Olivero /

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