Student-athletes from Virginia’s public high schools will have to wait until December to begin sports competition for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Virginia High School League Executive Committee voted 34-1 to approve the proposed Model 3 during a Zoom meeting Monday morning.
One of three models the VHSL presented for consideration during a July 15 meeting, Model 3 is based on the “Condensed Interscholastic Plan” that allows all prep sports to be played with condensed seasons.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said. “All of you know how important high school activities are to our student-athletes, to our coaches, to our parents and to our school communities. This was not a decision that was taken lightly.”
Haun added that this plan “allows schools the opportunity to open the year and get school started and deal with issues such as schedules, academic plans, transportation, dealing with possible outbreaks of COVID in the school.”
In Model 3, the high school sports calendar starts in December with winter sports (basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swimming and wrestling). Fall sports (competition cheer, cross country, field hockey, football, golf and volleyball) move to February of 2021, with spring sports (baseball, lacrosse, outdoor track, soccer, softball and tennis) to follow in April.
For Model 3 to take full effect, the state of Virginia will need to move past the Phase III reopening plan or revise guidelines to allow for high-risk activities.
“The executive committee adopted a plan addressing where we are in Phase III,” Haun said. “If we were to move beyond Phase III or move backwards from Phase III, the Virginia High School League would have to look at a different plan.”
Sports currently considered high risk include basketball and wrestling in the winter, along with competition cheer, field hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball.
“If a sport is considered to be a high-risk sport right now, what are the things we can put in place to mitigate that? I know a lot of sports groups are talking right now about how you can mitigate things,” Haun said. “Our goal is we would like to turn those high-risk sports into a moderate-risk sport as we move forward.”
The established time frame for each season in Model 3 allows for approximately two weeks of practices, followed by two months of competition. Winter sports are scheduled to start practicing Dec. 14 and begin competition Dec. 28.
The VHSL has scheduled a meeting for Aug. 24 to discuss potential postseason options. The end date for each of the three seasons would be the last possible date for postseason contests if the VHSL decides to include postseason play.
Following that meeting in late August, athletic directors throughout the state will be able to start assembling sports schedules for the 2020-2021 school year.
Season 1 (Winter sports)
• First practice date: Dec. 14
• Game dates: Dec. 28 to Feb. 20
• Sports: Basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swimming, wrestling
Season 2 (Fall sports)
• First practice date: Feb. 15
• Game dates: March 1 to May 1
• Sports: Competition cheer, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, volleyball
Season 3 (Spring sports)
• First practice date: April 12
• Game dates: April 26 to June 26
• Sports: Baseball, lacrosse, outdoor track, soccer, softball, tennis