On Friday, July 31, University High School athletic director John Walls shared with fall sports athletes the decision to transition soccer, volleyball, and cross country to an intramural season for fall of 2020. All IHSAA interschool competitions in these three sports will be canceled for the 2020-21 school year. Girls golf and boys tennis will compete in the fall IHSAA season as scheduled.
See below for the full statement from John Walls:
July 31, 2020
As we near the end of July, we are inching ever closer to the official start of the fall sports season in the State of Indiana. The protocols University High School has implemented this month with the return of athletes have gone smoothly, and we have felt confident in the level of safety we have provided for our athletes. As we have looked toward the next phase of the season, which involves competition with other Indiana schools, we have faced growing unease with the idea that we could be putting our athletes in situations and environments with high possibility for COVID-19 spread.
The University High School athletic department, administration, and team of fall coaches made the difficult decision today to cancel UHS participation in IHSAA interschool competitions in three of our five fall sports: soccer (boys and girls), volleyball, and cross country (boys and girls).
Soccer, Volleyball, & Cross Country — Intramural Seasons
These sports will transition to an eight-week intramural (UHS only) season with the intent of still providing a full, competitive athletic experience for those athletes. Practices will be held regularly after school, just as they would in a typical year, and each team will develop a schedule for competitions that will be held on site. These will be structured like typical high school athletic competitions — with officials, scoring, timing, social media coverage, etc. These intramural seasons will also award sports graduation credit and have the same end-of-season awards as a traditional season. However, all of the competitors will be University athletes to limit our outside exposure.
There were many factors considered, but the decision was ultimately made due to the level of risk inherent in each of these sports, the absence of clarity from the IHSAA in making adjustments to better protect student-athletes, and the lack of consistency in safety precautions being implemented among our competitor schools. While cross country and soccer are both outdoor sports, soccer involves physical contact and close proximity between competitors for the duration of the game, and the cross country start line and finish chute are packed with runners in very close contact. Volleyball is held indoors and involves some proximity as well as shared equipment.
In these sports, the summer workout schedule will continue for the next two weeks. Coaches will officially begin their eight-week seasons on the first day of school (Monday, Aug. 17), rather than on Monday, Aug. 3. Coaches of these sports will communicate further details with their athletes and parents within the next few days. Physicals and other forms are still required for athletes competing intramurally, and these are due by the first day of school. Player packs will be distributed on or before Aug. 17.
Finally, we have confirmed with the IHSAA that this decision will not impact our standing or ability to participate in later IHSAA seasons.
Playing intramural sports still has some risk, but it is more controllable by University. Further, while we are in hybrid learning, our intramural competition does not change the risk to other students. If an athlete contracts COVID-19, other athletes may have to quarantine, but the risk does not spread to other community members in our hybrid classes.
Boys Tennis & Girls Golf — Regular IHSAA Seasons
Because tennis and golf are both low-risk outdoor sports with minimal shared equipment and the ability for competitors to maintain ample physical distance throughout a competition, University High School’s boys tennis and girls golf teams will compete in the IHSAA season as scheduled. We are taking additional precautions in these competitions to reduce the already low risk of transmission, and we will delay or cancel competitions if outbreaks develop in our competitor schools.
The first day of the IHSAA season for girls golf is today, and the first day of the IHSAA season for boys tennis is Monday. Both of these sports will hold regular practices next week. For these athletes, the IHSAA physical and other forms are due before the first day of practice. Player packs for these sports will be distributed as soon as possible.
While I believe this decision is the best one for our school in these highly complex times, I also understand the feelings of disappointment that some athletes and families may feel about the loss of their competitive IHSAA season. I feel that loss too. Please know it is important for us to give our athletes a memorable, fun, competitive fall season even if they’re competing among themselves. The physical and mental benefits of sports in a typical year are numerous, but they are even more crucial for our student-athletes right now.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 317-733-4475 x115 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University High School