Summit Tigers coaches optimistic that winter seasons will take place |

Summit Tigers coaches optimistic that winter seasons will take place

Tigers to begin official practice Monday, Jan. 18, with competition beginning soon thereafter

The Summit High School boys basketball team, pictured during practice in December 2019, is scheduled to return to full practice with 5-on-5 basketball Monday, Jan. 18.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

Thanks to a state variance, the official start of the winter sports season is less than a week away for Summit High School teams.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and other state officials granted a variance to the Colorado High School Activities Association that allows the governing body to provide statewide regulations for practices and competition despite differences in local health regulations.

Even coaches of indoor teams are much more optimistic that the season will happen than they were a month ago.

“I’m feeling better about it,” boys basketball head coach Jordan Buller said. “Just being in the gym last week with the guys is a big step forward for me in terms of a positive outlook on things. CHSAA has done a pretty good job for us to have a semblance of a season. The boys and those in the program, we have an awareness of what’s to come, to be safe and keep our social circles small. In these challenging times, if we can work at it and stay healthy, we’ll hopefully get some games in.”

The Tigers boys basketball season-opener is scheduled Thursday, Jan. 28, at home versus Fruita Monument. That’ll follow just over a week of practice where the athletes will be able to scrimmage in a 5-on-5 format. Until the CHSAA variance goes into effect Monday, the team is limited by the county’s public health order to individual drills for 45 minutes and with only six athletes in the gym at a time.

Tigers girls basketball head coach Kayle Walker Burns said the nature of the preseason practices permitted by the Summit County Public Health Department has forced her to try drills she’s never tried before, such as having the girls pass a basketball back to themselves off a wall.

Walker Burns said she believes some version of a season will happen, albeit likely with periodic shutdowns and postponements similar to what Tigers football experienced a few months ago.

Tigers swim and dive coach Jenny Wischmeyer said her team has been able to practice twice a week the past three weeks with six girls in the pool at a time. The CHSAA variance will enable her to bump up to 12 girls in the pool at a time.

“It’s kind of crazy, but it’s what we can do, and it’s been so good to have the girls back in the pool so excited to be swimming,” Wischmeyer said.

Wischmeyer said she’s very optimistic there will be a season with the first meet slated for Jan. 30 at home.

Tigers outdoor winter sports, including Alpine and Nordic skiing, have faced far fewer worries and questions than their indoor counterparts. Nordic head coach Eva Hagen said Tigers Nordic skiers have practiced for six weeks at Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge “pretty much like normal” outside of physical distancing and wearing facial coverings when huddled together. The skiers are scheduled to race for the first time Jan. 29 in Leadville before hosting a race at Gold Run on Feb. 5. Races will be limited to 75 skiers per gender per meet.

As of now, the Tigers Nordic team has 20 skiers practicing, though Hagen said she wouldn’t be surprised to see that number go up after students returned to hybrid learning this week.

“And we’ve had no … positive tests or outbreaks within the team,” Hagen said. “It’s been good to go so far, knock on wood.”

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