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Finally, an avenue to the return of high school sports in the fall

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 9:39 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - On Thursday, fall sports were placed into two categories, high and low risk.

Low-risk sports are cross country, golf, tennis, swimming. They can start practice on August 17. High-risk sports include football, volleyball, and boys’ soccer. The earliest start date for them has been moved to September 7th.

But compared to the alternatives, there are a lot of happy athletes and coaches today. Dylan Ackermann is slated to take over at quarterback for last season’s state runner up in eight-man football, Newman Catholic, but he wasn’t sure he would get that chance.

“Me and the guys, we were worried we weren’t going to get our senior season in,” said Ackermann. “The whole summer when we were throwing routes, when we were lifting together, we were like ‘Are we going to be able to play? Are we going to be able to play?’ And today it was just that big sigh of relief, like yeah we’re going to be able to get on the field.”

For everyone around the team, finally, a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I can see the smiles on their faces tomorrow morning, and it’s going to be a good thing to see that there’s hope,” said Newman head coach Paul Michlig. “There’s something to go forward to, there’s a reason they’re working out, there’s some reason they’re doing that stuff.”

So what is the benefit to starting those high-risk sports later?

“I think the last thing we wanted to have happened was to start a lot of those contact sports before the school year,” said Michael Blair, athletic director at SPASH. “And then by chance, if there was some sort of a breakout, and that kept schools from opening.”

One of the biggest question marks of all is whether there will be any state tournaments in the fall. But for this unique season, chasing a gold ball takes a backseat, to simply experiencing the love of the game

“It’s probably come down to the one basic thing,” said Michlig. “To let them have an opportunity to let them play together like they did when they were ten, twelve years old and play with their friends, and go out there and play football one more time.”

“If we end up having a tournament series, that’s icing on the cake if we get there,” Blair said. “If not, let’s give our kids a chance to be a part of a team.”

There is still plenty of work to be done. Blair said that one thing on the table is for the Wisconsin Valley Conference to move to conference-only play. However, if all goes well, some high school athletes will be back practicing in less than a month.

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