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Thursday, August 20, 2020

KHSAA votes to allow Kentucky high school fall sports to begin competition Sept. 7

No Change of Dates from July Meeting

Highlands sophomore Sam Hopper runs in the Class AA State Cross Country Meet last fall.

By G. Michael Graham

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association board met today to review the guidance for high school sports and came to some decisions.

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The first practices will be held Aug. 24 and the games will start on Sept. 7 for soccer, cross country, volleyball and football teams just like the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control voted for on July 28 in the last online meeting.

The first Highlands football game will be Sept. 11 against Simon Kenton in Fort Thomas.

"I'm very excited for (the Highlands coaches and student-athletes)," said Wes Caldwell, Highlands Director of Athletics. "I know they've been putting in hard work these last couple weeks and I know they're excited to actually do activities that involve more than just conditioning. Hopefully, we have a safe season and bring home championships."

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett noted nothing is final until approved by the Kentucky Department of Health. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has suggested in-person classes at schools not start until Sept. 28.

"It's a major, major challenge for us," Tackett said. "There are no clear-cut decisions. There is absolutely no doubt this is going to be the most unusual year we've been through."

The board laid out three options and voted to go with the first one. The second option delayed the first practices until Sept. 7 with the first games starting Oct. 28. The board voted it down 15-3.

The third option allowed cross country to start practices and meets on the same dates but delayed football, soccer and volleyball until Sept. 7 for the start of practices and Sept. 28 for the start of games. In the second and third options, the first football game would be Oct. 2 with the season shortened to seven weeks before going into the postseason. The board voted it down 13-5.

Nothing has been set in stone in terms of number of fans allowed to attend games. But Caldwell said fans will probably have to wear masks to attend the games.

"It's just one of the circumstances we're in," Caldwell said. "To get as many fans as we'd love to have, you're going to have to abide by certain rules. We're all in this pattern where we're having to adapt to change and get along with it."

The Highlands football team has been conditioning outside. Head Coach Brian Weinrich said that will continue with practices. But he did say the school has the equipment to spray things down if the team ever goes inside the locker room or weight room.

"It was a very nervous morning with the anticipation waiting to listen to what they had to say," Weinrich said. "In the end, the right decision was made and I think the coaches in Kentucky have done an absolutely phenomenal job at adhering to the guidelines and communicating with one another. No one was trying to get a competitive advantage with anyone else because at the end of the day, we were all looking for the same goal and that was for our guys to get to play. I feel a lot of the board members felt the way the coaches feel. That is the guys are much safer and in a position being with their coaches and being with their team than they are without any structure."

High school sports competition has been shut down in Kentucky since March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. None of the spring sports played last year.

Sophomore Carly Cramer expected to have a huge role pitching for the softball team this past spring. She played on the freshmen girls basketball and volleyball teams last year.

"I'm very excited that I get to be back on the court," Cramer said. "I can't wait to see what the season brings."

The Highlands golf teams have been playing for several weeks now. The boys have won five tournaments and the girls defeated Bishop Brossart in the first dual match of the season last week.

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