Here’s what high school winter sports will look like as pandemic continues
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — No Routt County team has taken part in high school athletics since late October. On Jan. 18, they’ll return.
Jan. 18 marks the beginning of practices for Season B high school athletics across the state, according to the latest update from the Colorado High School Activities Association. A week later, on Jan. 25, teams can begin competitions.
As determined ahead of the school year, Season B is composed of the typical winter sports of basketball, ice hockey, skiing, spirit, swimming and wrestling.
“It’s been 15 weeks since we have had athletics going on at the high school,” said Steamboat Springs High School Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe. “That was definitely a wait to not have those athletic contests. To be able to get back to a point where we can start up again in a safe manner and start to participate and give these kids the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of educationally-based athletics, I’m super excited. I know our coaches are excited, our kids are excited and the parents I’ve talked to are extremely excited.”
Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Soroco high schools are all working on getting updated sports schedules online. Steamboat has many posted already at sailorsathletics.org, and the rest will likely be complete next week.
Hayden Athletic Director Danielle Campbell said the biggest challenge of getting winter sports up and running has been creating the schedules. She said she’s on her third draft of schedules for each sport.
“When you fill up one it’s OK, but with two … I had the schedule ready for Jan. 4, then we found out we were getting moved back so I guess we’re scrapping that schedule,” Campbell said. “I’m just trying to make sure that we are giving these kids every opportunity they can get.”
Breaking down the details
The basketball regular season will be 14 games, concluding March 6. Athletes have to wear masks while playing. The 4A and 5A playoffs will have 32-team brackets, while 1A to 3A schools will have a 24-team bracket, according to the CHSAA sport modifications.
Hockey will have 13 contests and end March 11 with a four-team bracket for both 4A and 5A.
Wrestling will have a maximum of 20 duals, leading up to regionals March 5 and 6 and state March 12 or 13. No tournaments are allowed, just events with a maximum of four teams.
Regionals will have a 16-person bracket, with seven weight classes competing the first day and the other seven competing the next. The state tournament will have an eight-person bracket over one day.
Since skiing takes place outdoors and athletes are generally spaced out, the season will function similarly to any other season. Nordic skiing will feature 25 skiers per wave, with one-minute intervals. Smaller waves, such as in classic races, will have 30-second intervals.
Fans and food
As for spectators, under level orange of Colorado’s COVID-19 dial, outdoor unseated events can hold a 25% capacity or 75 people. Under level orange, indoor seated events can have a 25% capacity or 50 people, if the school chooses to allow fans.
Both the Steamboat Springs and Hayden gyms are large enough to accommodate 50 people, which doesn’t include active players, coaches or essential personnel.
However, it does include cheerleaders, and any players waiting to take part in the next game. The amount of spectators will be low.
Campbell knows she’ll have to be creative in determining who can spectate a game. She said she and other staff are thinking of implementing a wristband system, giving two to each athlete as a way to give priority to parents.
In between games, the gym will have to be cleaned, and a new group of spectators could come in.
All three Routt County high schools have a second gym they can utilize for games, warm ups or even just hosting athletes to keep less people out of the main gym.
Neither Steamboat Springs or Hayden will have concessions, so booster clubs, athletic groups and graduating classes will take a financial hit.
“There will definitely be impacts to groups like our booster club,” said DeWolfe. “Our booster club is in a good place in terms of where they’re at. Our teams are in a good place. The fundraising efforts they’ve done in the past have given them some stability. I feel like although this is something that’s going to have some impact, I don’t think it’s going to be substantial in terms of financial losses.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Twenty months after the South Routt School District announced it would close because of a burgeoning coronavirus, COVID-19 is more prevalent in South Routt than ever before.