CEDAR RAPIDS — This week was a breeze for Grant Schultz.
Ah, that’s not true. Not for any high school activities director right now.
They’re worried about the health of their coaches, the health of their students, their own health, their family’s health. Pandemic life stinks and is incredibly stressful for these men and women.
But at least Schultz, Cedar Rapids Washington’s AD, didn’t have to scramble at the last minute to find a new opponent for the Warriors’ football team. That’s something.
Washington played Cedar Falls at Kingston Stadium on Thursday night, just as it was planned all along. For once.
“It’s been pretty crazy, obviously,” Schultz said.
Washington had three different opponents than originally planned Weeks 3 through 5 this season.
Iowa City High was on the schedule Sept. 10 but couldn’t play by state decree because classes were conducted online only to begin the school year in the district. So Schultz went out and found a game at Marshalltown that night instead.
The following week Linn-Mar was the intended opponent but it had to shut down for two weeks due of a COVID-19 situation. Washington traveled to Dubuque Senior instead.
Last week, the Warriors were to meet Iowa City Liberty, but, again, the three Iowa City public schools weren’t able to play. Washington played a Saturday afternoon home game against Davenport Assumption instead.
“The thing is this summer and even this spring has kind of prepared us a little bit,” Schultz said. “If this was a normal year, and I’d have to reschedule a football game that late, it would be just panic. But because we had to reschedule spring, and it still didn’t happen, we had to reschedule summer, had to re-adjust that, games were changing all summer, baseball and softball, it’s almost like a lot of us were more mentally prepared that we’d have to deal with potential changes (this fall), knowing that our school easily could be one of those schools that wasn’t able to play.”
Anamosa is another example of trying to play football during a pandemic. The Blue Raiders have remained healthy, which is the most important thing.
But their schedule has been changed. A Sept. 11 rivalry game against Monticello was canceled because of a COVID-19 situation at Monticello, and a game this week against West Liberty was called off for the same reason.
AD Bret Jones came through for his school, helping set up a Sept. 10 game at Class 4A Waterloo West. Not exactly two rivals there.
Friday night, Iowa Falls-Alden is coming to town.
“It goes back to the first year I was an AD,” Jones said. “I went to a conference and remember hearing a speaker saying if you don’t get excited about flipping the lights on on a Friday night or getting up and making sure the mats are out for a wrestling tournament on a Saturday morning, then it’s probably the wrong job for you. Those things I do get excited about. The state is full of quality ADs that want to do what’s best for kids, so I think what makes this a little bit easier, that every single school in the state is literally fighting this battle.
“Typically if you lose a game, it’s impossible to find another one because people just aren’t losing games. But this year, so many people are having to adjust their schedules. People are working together and extending their boundaries more in order to get games in for kids.”
Another example of that extending-your-boundaries thing is Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The J-Hawks had replaced cross-town rival Cedar Rapids Kennedy on its schedule Sept. 11 with Southeast Polk and Iowa City West last week with a road trip to 2A West Marshall.
Activities Director Chris Deam pointed out how vastly different the two situations turned out to be.
“It took us a couple of hours on that Tuesday (of game week), and we found Southeast Polk because no one else in the state wanted to play them. That was us, we bit the bullet for the rest of the state,” Deam said about 4A’s top-ranked team. “Then the other one, we had a long head’s up and couldn’t find an opponent until the day before. Just two way different situations. We had several opponents that second time that were interested, and we got turned down, which was kind of strange. Then we found a school that was willing to play us.”
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Keep in mind, it’s not just football games that schools have had to try and reschedule. Jones pointed out how he just added a volleyball game with Maquoketa because both schools had prior games canceled.
Anamosa ended up hosting a cross country meet last month at the last second because original host Monticello was under quarantine.
“They didn’t cover this in AD school,” Deam said. “Like today, I got an email reminder from (Cedar Rapids) Xavier that they needed my district golf roster. It was due today, so I called my coach. He said ‘I sent that to you already.’ I went back and looked at my emails, and sure enough, he had sent it to me on a day that I was doing some contact tracing for our sophomore and freshman football teams that aren’t playing right now. I was spending all day doing last week, and (the golf) email got lost in the shuffle.”
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