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Athletic directors react to WIAA guidelines for summer training

 SPASH Football before a game in fall 2019. (WSAW)
SPASH Football before a game in fall 2019. (WSAW) (WSAW)
Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 9:30 PM CDT
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After months of uncertainty, the summer guidance documentation provided by the WIAA on Thursday offered a sense of relief for athletic directors.

"It was a blessing for athletic directors to have something kind of in black and white in front of us,” said Michael Blair, athletic director at SPASH.

But that black and white came with a lot of information, and a lot of work ahead for all athletic directors.

"I think the first thing that popped in my head was 'what is our risk level?', and how do we figure that out?” said Travis Grubbs, athletic director at Stratford High School. “And what does that communication look like between us and the county?"

There are four risk categories: High, moderate, low, and lowest, that will be determined for each school by its respective county health department. Each category comes with a different set of safety protocols.

"It does seem daunting,” Blair admitted. “The safety measures that are put into place are obviously needed and probably mandatory."

The challenge may be especially daunting at SPASH, the biggest school in our viewing area, with around 1,600 students.

"Well I'd certainly say it is a disadvantage when it comes to having to limit the numbers of kids that are able to take part in whether it be a contact day, an open gym,” Blair said.

But even at smaller Stratford, designated in the ‘moderate’ risk category right now, meaning they can have 50 people outside split into pods, it won't be easy.

"Last year with all of our different teams for just football, we had 109 kids come out,” Grubbs said. “So, we are small, but we have huge participation in sports like football."

Because of that, the goalposts for what would define a successful season shift beyond wins and losses.

"Can we keep all of our kids safe, number one. And two, can we provide them with the experiences that they so importantly need in their development process and their sense of community and all of that?” Grubbs said. “If we can achieve those two things, we've had a fantastic next year."

The guidance also puts each sport into different categories from higher to lower risk. As one would imagine, the headliner, football, is in the higher risk group.

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