MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There will be a fourth season for some Minnesota high school athletes this school year because of COVID-19.
The Minnesota State High School League moved the football and volleyball season from fall to spring.
For more than three hours, the MSHSL weighed in on what to do about fall sports.
The 18-member board voted Tuesday and gave soccer the green light to start on Aug. 17 with a shortened season and no scrimmages.
But for football that won’t be the case — with no Friday night lights this fall. They’ll have to wait until spring.
Michelle Carstensen had to break the news to her son AJ, a senior lineman for the Hopkins Royals and a Division II recruit.
“As a parent I don’t understand why we didn’t give it a try,” Carstensen said.
“They’ve been playing football since June 15 when they were allowed to,” she added.
Carstensen says they’ve done so without any COVID-19 cases. Sanitizing the equipment, players, and taking temperatures all a part of practice.
“Him playing in the fall is what he’s been looking forward to since November to now say you have to wait until March,” she said.
The MSHSL ranked football and volleyball as highest risk. After a number of COVID-19 outbreaks were reported at volleyball gyms this summer.
Eden Prairie head football coach and activities director Mike Grant believes allowing individual sports like cross country, girls tennis and swimming to also start a shortened season this fall makes sense.
“I think they made a great decision because there’s no history to know what the best decision is,” Grant said.
“I think it’s great we have some sports. If we have to move two to the spring, we will figure that out we have great AD’s and state high school league we will figure out how to do it,” he said.
St. Thomas Academy senior Garrison Solliday has his mind on football. The two-time all-conference player wants to take his game to the next level.
“If I get a scholarship for football, that’d be amazing,” Solliday said. “I like the Ivy Leagues for sure, some local schools, maybe like Madison or NDSU.”
Solliday says having an exceptional senior year can solidly your spot on a college roster. But he won’t have the chance to add fall highlights to his reel, and that’s concerning.
“Roster spots fill up, scholarships get taken,” Solliday said.
Joe Vascellaro, Solliday’s teammate and coworker, is also in his senior year and wants to play college ball.
“Senior year, it’d help a lot to get more film and better plays,” Vascellaro said.
Concordia Head Football Coach Shannon Currier says a delayed season could be a challenge for athletes hoping to lock in a scholarship.
“A lot of kids as you watch their junior video, like, ‘OK, we want to see this player play his senior year,’” Currier said. “Unfortunately, they won’t get to showcase their best until spring, and in a lot of these cases with the scholarship programs, recruiting is probably done, you know, in December.”
Hamline University Head Football Coach Chip Taylor has advice for aspiring collegiate athletes.
“Be proactive and stay in front of those coaches,” Taylor said. “If you’ve got sophomore junior film, get that stuff out to them and put some of your individual drills on tape. I don’t think that will hurt. Stay as positive as possible.”
And before these teammates move onto college, their game plan is to win a trophy, regardless of when they play their season.
“The state championship, man,” Solliday said. “It’s no easy task, but we just want to win it.”
Another concern college coaches raised was that college seniors may “red shirt” this season due to COVID-19 impacts, and that could mean less spots for incoming athletes next fall.
There were also concerns brought up about what this could mean for sports scholarships or even families moving to border states to allow their students to play where things are less restrictive.