They're off

Members of the Lady Demons cross country team take off from the start of the Buena Vista Invitational including, from left, Mallory Salazar, Alexis Santopietro, Aja Hogan, Molly McMurry, Alyssa Buman, Justus Adams, Elizabeth Torrens, Scout McMurry and Abby Nagel. The Lady Demons finished runner up to Salida.

The games will go on this year in Colorado, but the high school sports seasons have been modified and shortened in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following months of collaboration with Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado High School Activities Association Resocialization Task Force, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, the state’s COVID-19 Response team, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the CHSAA board of directors and administrative staff, CHSAA announced its 2020-2021 interscholastic athletics and activities calendar Tuesday.

Sports to be played this fall include boys golf, girls softball, boys tennis and cross country. Buena Vista High School competes in boys golf and cross country. The sports played this fall will all be concluded by Oct. 17

Due to the restrictive nature of the current state guidelines, and the ability to follow Colorado Department of Education requirements, all contact sports have been moved to a season which will commence later in the calendar, and allow for playoffs and culminating events without creating new conflicts.

“The connections and life lessons students have while participating with their peers in activities is a valuable part of the school experience. The modified sports schedule breaks our hearts. Student athletes look forward to these opportunities for years.,” Buena Vista school district superintendent Lisa Yates said.

“To take this as a celebration is what I think we have to do and hope we don’t have any outbreaks that force (CHSAA) to cancel more than they already have,” said Jim Coscarella, the athletic director for the Saliuda School District.

Seasons will also be shorter this upcoming year. Each season is approximately seven weeks from start to finish. Sports will have their regular season competition limits reduced. The postseason for each sport will also be shortened, including the number of state qualifiers.

Cross country will be limited to seven contests and golf will be limited to 198 holes. Football will be limited to seven games and soccer will be able to hold 10 contests. Volleyball can play 16 matches, wrestling will be able to hold seven duals plus seven days of competitions, baseball can play 16 games, swimming will be able to race seven times plus at its league meet, while track and field will be able to compete at eight meets. Tennis and skiing limits haven’t been announced yet.

“The health and safety of our student participants, coaches, officials and essential personnel, including volunteers is a primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics and activities,” CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said. “We are very grateful for the state, health and educational leaders for their shared commitment of a return to these highly beneficial education programs when it is deemed safe for all school communities.”

Note that the resumption of all activities and athletics are subject to change based upon any changes to national, state or local guidelines.

In anticipation of data from the state which shows a likely resurgence of COVID-19 cases in late fall, there will be a participation moratorium from Oct. 18 to Jan. 3.

The second of the four seasons will begin after Christmas break on Jan. 4. Sports in the second season include basketball, ice hockey, skiing, competitive and sideline spirit, girls swimming and wrestling.

In the third season, beginning at the end of February and early March, football, field hockey, gymnastics, boys soccer, unified bowling and girls volleyball will take place.

In the fourth season beginning at the end of April, baseball, girls golf, boys and girls lacrosse, girls soccer, boys swimming, track and field, girls tennis and boys volleyball will all take place.

By having four seasons, student athletes will be able to compete in the same sports they have in the past without having to choose or the other.

“One of the thought processes for CHSAA was to protect rural schools and multi-sport athletes,” Coscarella said. “Kids won’t have to choose between football and basketball.”

In general, Coscarella was happy that all of the sports will still take place this year.

“I”m happy kids are going to have the opportunity to compete,” he said. “It’s not ideal, but at least they have the opportunity to look forward to activities. I think it’s vital for students mental health to have the opportunity to compete and take part in extra curricular activities.”

In March when the pandemic first took hold in the United States, the basketball state tournament was canceled midway through the competition while spring sports were also canceled soon after beginning practices.

So while the upcoming seasons are shortened, at least they’re scheduled to take place.

“It’s definitely an unfortunate time that our country, town and schools are going through,” Coscarella said. “You have my assurance that I will always advocate for all activities at Salida high and middle schools.”

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