LHS Jones Pollard

Laurel's Tyrone Jones is congratulated by assistant coach Kylan Pollard. (File photo by Brad Crowe)

 

MHSAA slowly opening doors for competition in the fall

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High school sports are on their way back.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association ruled Thursday to let teams resume athletic activities starting June 1, pending Gov. Tate Reeves’ upcoming announcement on when school facilities can reopen.

However, teams will not be allowed to compete against each other this summer.

The MHSAA executive committee met for more than five hours via teleconference to determine whether it should stick to the June 1 restart date that was set in mid-April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The association took into account recommendations from medical professionals across the state.

All athletic competitions and related activities have been suspended since March 16.

When teams return to work in June, they must follow any orders handed down by state and local government as well as their school regarding COVID-19 precautions. That could mean limiting the number of athletes working out or practicing at the same time.

Coaches must also confirm with their school or district administrators whether a specific school facility is open.

With Thursday’s decision, athletes and coaches can now come together at school athletic facilities for workouts and practices, although there will be a two-week acclimation period.

The first week back, athletes will be allowed to lift weights once a day for two hours at 50 percent capacity. The second week, they can lift once a day for two hours at increased capacity.

All practices, workouts, weightlifting, skill development and conditioning will be considered voluntary for athletes.

There will be no inter-squad competition — such as summer league basketball or 7-on-7 football — allowed before the start of the 2020-21 athletic year due to certain areas of the state still being hotspots for the coronavirus.

Also, traveling to on-campus team camps is not allowed.

However, instrasquad practices and scrimmages are permitted.

“We will continue to assess new information and develop plans for the upcoming 2020-21 fall sports and activities seasons,” MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. “Weekly updates will be provided to help our member schools as we look forward to the new school year of sports and activities.”

Football teams will be allowed to have intrasquad 7-on-7 practices and scrimmages. It will be the first on-field action for teams since last season, as the pandemic wiped out spring drills.

Preseason drills are scheduled to begin Aug. 3, with the 2020 season set to kick off Aug. 20-21.

“As we stand right now, I am fully planning on having a regular football season,” MHSAA associate director Rickey Neaves said. “If they say we can’t have people in stands, I don’t think our schools would be able to afford to have it.”

Preseason practices for cross-country, swimming and volleyball begin July 27.

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