High school winter, spring sports schedules set by ASAA
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -
With the conclusion of fall sports, the Alaska School Activities Association, the regulating body for high school sports in the state, turned their attention to the winter and spring seasons at their board meeting Monday.
Several sports saw the framework of their seasons solidified, with practice dates and state championship weekends outlined. All dates are tentative, while state championships are not guaranteed, even if some or all of the regular-season and conference championships are played. Traditionally, teams need a minimum of 10 practices before their first competition, but that number may be lowered by ASAA at their next board meeting scheduled in December.
Winter sports, with the exception of cross-country skiing, will begin in early January after students return from Holiday break.
“I think overall the concern was, are we going to see a lot of COVID numbers continue to go up and what is going to be the impact of the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks?” said ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland. “[There are] travel concerns, as families are traveling. If a student goes out to visit Grandma in the Lower 48, than right now they have to come home and quarantine for 14 days.”
The high school basketball season for Classes 1A-4A will open January 11 when teams can host their first official practice. The state championships, if possible, are scheduled to be held from March 24-27 for 3A and 4A, but would be reduced to a three-day tournament if it is not hosted at its typical location of the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. The arena is currently being reserved as an emergency COVID center, and if the tournament cannot be played there or must be played without fans, it will take place at local high schools in the area. The 1A and 2A state championships are currently scheduled for April 1-3 at a location still to be determined.
Skiing will be the lone high school sport active in the state when they begin practice on November 16. The state meet for cross-country skiing is set for February 25-27.
“Overall, the board and the committee was comfortable with allowing ski to get back up and running because it is an outdoor activity and therefore, a lot easier to mitigate," added Strickland.
The hockey season may be the most abbreviated of the sports offered this winter. The first practice can take place January 4, while the Division II state tournament is scheduled for February 18-20 and DI is set for February 25-27.
"They end up with a very short season, but that is because a lot of our hockey players are also involved in the comp hockey world and their state events start happening late February, early March.
“The board may continue to tweak this schedule, because there is some feeling right now that in hockey, you’re only going to have the Anchorage schools playing Anchorage, the Mat-Su playing Mat-Su, Kenai playing Kenai and Fairbanks playing Fairbanks. We are trying to get a better feel for what is going on with the small schools as well.” said Strickland.
The wrestling season typically takes place during the first semester of the academic school year, concluding before the Holiday break. The wrestling schedule was one of the items tabled for the December ASAA board meeting.
“We still haven’t figured out exactly when we want to do it, but we are looking at a spring season," said Strickland.
After its inaugural season in 2019-20, the eSports schedule has been pushed back for the upcoming season. Schools will begin practice for League of Legends, Rocket League and Smite on February 1, with state competitions set for April 24 and May 1. ASAA is also looking to adopt new video games to the eSports landscape during the 2021-22 season.
There was no competition held for spring sports took place during the 2019 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ASAA is looking to play those seasons during a similar timeline as they have in years past. Baseball, softball, soccer, and track and field can host their first practice on March 22 after students return from spring break. The state championships for baseball and softball are set for June 3-5, while soccer’s state tournament is scheduled for May 27-29. The state track and field meet is currently scheduled to take place May 28-29.
The Mid-Alaska Conference volleyball tournament will conclude on Saturday, signifying the end of fall sports in Alaska. While it didn’t come without its hiccups, tennis and cross-country running finished their seasons with state championships, while other fall sports were able to play through the regular-season or conference tournaments. Now, ASAA will look to take what they learned from the fall seasons and carry it over to the upcoming winter and spring seasons.
“I think one of the things we have learned is mitigation plans work, but nothing is fool proof," said Strickland. "We didn’t see, or don’t think there has been significant issues of one athlete passing COVID to another athlete at the practices or games. So, we believe the mitigations when the students are there, are working, and that is good, because I think that bodes well for the ability to eventually have state championships.”
The next ASAA board meeting is scheduled for December, where the wrestling schedule, reclassification for various sports, among other topics will be discussed.
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