Coulee Conference approves fall sports planning concept

In a step toward a potential fall high school sports season in the Coulee Conference, member district superintendents passed a planning concept Monday for conducting fall sports with a delayed start date.

Under the proposal, “low risk sports” as determined by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) including girls golf, tennis, cross country and swimming & diving would begin practice on Aug. 17. “Moderate or high risk” sports such as volleyball, football and boys soccer would begin practices on Sept. 7. Competition could begin as soon as Aug. 20 in girls golf, Aug. 21 in tennis, Aug. 25 for cross country, Sept. 15 for boys soccer and volleyball and the week of Sept. 23 for football.

According to Arcadia athletic director Bruce Schweisthal, schools do have their eye on additional guidance likely coming from a Friday meeting of the WIAA Board of Control. The superintendents are scheduled to meet this coming Monday to discuss any options that arise based on that meeting.

The approved proposal by Coulee superintendents included rough guidelines for competition that featured the cancellation of most non-conference and invitational matches, with an emphasis on preserving conference play. Cross country is looking at a meet schedule of three to four conference meets of eight to 10 teams. The Vernon County, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau and Arcadia’s Holte Invitational were highlighted as meets likely to be conducted, with perhaps one additional conference meet. 

Football would compete in a Coulee-only modified schedule. The proposal would also eliminate crossover games against the Middle Border Conference, which the proposal denotes as unnecessary due to the travel distance. The elimination of those games would also schedule a bye week for each team.

Volleyball will be scheduled to play every conference opponent once, with the potential for an additional non-conference game with a team in close travel proximity. Modifications to play will also be considered, such as bench distancing and teams remaining on one side of the court for the duration of the match.

The overall fall sports schedule proposed included one conference volleyball match and one conference football game per week, with the same schools playing each other in each match that week. The proposal also would potentially create northern and southern groupings of schools that would play each other early in the season to decrease travel, with the second half of the season featuring matches between more distant schools in the conference.

Other considerations discussed but not definitively acted upon in the proposal included the attendance of fans and game day protocols for arrival times and procedures, using locker rooms versus arriving in game gear, departure protocols and other concerns. Conference championships and all-conference recognition will not be held due to the potential for teams to be unable to compete at various points during the season. 

The proposal also leaves the door open for WIAA tournament participation based on fluid circumstances in the COVID-19 pandemic.


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