Prep Sports

What Iowa high school athletics directors are saying about a summer sports season

Everybody remains on board to field a team if baseball and softball go forward, but some creativity will be required in redesigning schedules in an abbreviated season

Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Rapids Jefferson play in the Metro baseball tournament championship last season. (Liz Mart
Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Rapids Jefferson play in the Metro baseball tournament championship last season. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
/

The proverbial white-out has been getting a workout in the office of Aaron Reinhart.

“I have spent many hours planning, and then replanning, due to changing information,” said Reinhart, the athletics director at Elkader Central.

Others figure, why bother?

“We are just in a wait-and-see mode right now,” Edgewood-Colesburg AD Roger Wright said.

Spring sports for Iowa high schools, of course, are off the table. Now, as Wright said, it’s wait-and-see on baseball and softball.

Iowa is the only state in the nation that provides high school baseball and softball in the summer. With schools closed through the end of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union have pushed the first day of practice back to June 1 (originally May 4), at the earliest.

More than 20 area athletics directors responded to an email sent by The Gazette on Monday, asking their thoughts on a summer season. All said that if a season is played, their school will participate.

Other than that, who knows?

“(Mississippi Valley Conference officials) have heard two scenarios,” Cedar Rapids Washington AD Grant Schultz said. “The first is a start date (of practice) of June 1 with first competition June 8, and the second is a start date (of practice) of June 15 and first competition of June 22.”

No matter what, the regular season — if there is one — will be abbreviated from its usual slate of a 40-game maximum. Maybe drastically.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The MVC’s summer schedule generally is for a 30-game league schedule for both baseball and softball, a doubleheader round-robin among the 16 schools.

“We have compiled a shortened summer schedule, based on the premise of a June 1 practice start and a June 22 competition start,” Iowa City West AD Craig Huegel said. “We will release that schedule once we get official word that we are having a season.”

Another MVC AD said, on the condition of anonymity, “I think you’re incredibly optimistic about starting practice June 1. We are hoping for a first day of practice June 15, games starting June 22 and a regular season of three to four weeks.”

The postseason is scheduled to begin July 6 for softball, July 9 for baseball. The state softball tournament is July 20-24 at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge; state baseball is July 24-Aug. 1 at Principal Park, Des Moines.

“There are lots of interesting decisions to be made if we do have a season, and it’s a small window to get games in,” Monticello AD Tim Lambert said.

Most area conferences play two league doubleheaders per week.

“We are fortunate in the Wamac that we have 14 teams and a very heavy conference schedule,” Independence AD Justin Putz said. “That also allows us to work very well together to fill out schedules as things continue to change.

“If the season is not extended and we do not start playing games until mid-June getting an entire conference schedule in would be difficult. At this point I think we will all just be glad to be on the field and watching our athletes participate.”

Two Tri-Rivers Conference ADs — Lisbon’s Eric Ries and Maquoketa Valley’s Trevor Arnold — indicated that their league will choose a date, maybe June 1 but probably later, and simply cancel the original schedule before the new start date.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We all find it hard to believe that the state would let us play games on June 1 with no actual practices prior to that,” Arnold said. “If we aren’t playing game for a week, 10 days, or until June 15, in terms of arm health, that should be what we do.”

That said, Arnold added: “I am putting the chance we play baseball and softball at about 10 percent. I hope I’m wrong.”

Added Tanner Carlson, AD at Central City: “We are hoping for the best for our student-athletes to get a chance to play, but also we want to make sure everyone is safe.”

And from Solon AD Casey Hack: “Hopefully things improve and we get the opportunity to play this summer. I feel terrible for our kids and coaches.”

The South Iowa Cedar League is not a doubleheader conference. If there is a season, Belle Plaine AD Mark Tegeler said, “We’ll make a conference schedule in which we will play all schools one time. For baseball, unless the association extends the season, that would be 11 games over 3-4 weeks which would be more than enough with pitching requirements.

“Softball could look to add some non-conference games and would look to play in Saturday tournaments if those are allowed.”

But for now, and probably for a few more weeks, it’s wait and see. And hope.

“It sounds like nothing will happen until (Gov. Kim Reynolds) decides if the school closure will be lifted on June 1,” said Nathan King, Williamsburg AD and baseball coach. “This means we may be waiting until June 1 for a summer sports decision.

“I personally think the longer we wait, the better chance we have.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.