Spring sports allotted additional contact days

The upcoming spring sports seasons will take on a new structure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; the WIAA (Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association) has authorized additional pre-season contact days for high school athletes.

“This year, since the indoor season was cancelled, the WIAA allowed for our coaches to have 15 contact days leading up to the beginning of the outdoor season,” said Annika Elliot, junior on the track team.

Lucy Corcoran, senior, dribbles the ball as Fiona Skwierawski, junior, watches. Girls soccer, like track, will use its 15 contact days to get a headstart on the season.

Last year, coaches were allowed five preseason contact days per team. This ruling affects all spring sports as well as fall sports that have elected to use the alternate season: boys soccer, football, golf, boys tennis, girls soccer, softball, baseball and track and field.

“Contact days are opportunities for coaches to have structured organized practices before the season starts. The WIAA limits the number of days coaches can have coaching contact with student athletes, so these days are important to use to get prepared for the upcoming spring season,” said LeVar Ridgeway, athletic director.

The track and field pre-season contact days have already begun, operating on a strict schedule. Coaches have the opportunity to choose when they can utilize these contact days. Dominic Newman, head coach, scheduled two per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays in preparation for the official season starting on April 19. These days have been utilized to form training pods between student athletes.

“Our training pods are going to be dictated, at least for sprinters and our distance athletes, by time. We will have 5 to 10 athletes, maybe  a little less, per training pod,” Newman said.

These small pods allow social distancing and contact tracing to become easier. This technique was utilized during the cross country season, and was proven effective.

“On the boys cross country side, we had nobody test positive at all within the boys families or the athletes themselves, so I felt like what we had worked,” Newman said.

Although the track and field team is one of the first spring sports to begin their pre-season contact days, others are following suit. The contact days provide an exciting opportunity for teams to meet, practice and boost morale before the season begins.

“My hope is the extended time will give coaches and student athletes the opportunity to reconnect with each other and provide the additional time to prepare for the upcoming spring season,” Ridgeway said.

We didn’t have our track season last year, so now everyone’s getting up and getting ready to go. We’re really excited to compete and it should be a really good season,” Elliot said.