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| 4 min | by Mike Williamson |

Chelsea girls’ basketball players take part in individual drills while social distancing at Beach Middle School. Photo from Chelsea Girl’s Basketball Twitter

Area high school athletes returned to the practice field on June 15 after a long hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.

High school sports were halted March 12 with the cancellation of winter sports tournaments.

State tournaments for girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, and hockey were cut short and boys’ swimming was stopped just before the state finals were scheduled to take place.

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Schools were shut down and athletes were not able to use school facilities to practice, that is until Governor Whitmer lifted the stay at home ban and the MHSAA announced that they could return to the practice field under certain guidelines June 15.

Before practices could resume, school districts had to declare that school facilities were reopened to staff and students as well as the last day of 2019/2020 academic school year had passed.

Guidelines were listed for each sport to return to practice with them listed by risk of activities and they must practice outside with indoor facilities still shut down due to the virus.

ALL SPORTS: Maintain Physical Distancing with outdoor activity only.

Low Risk Sports: Cross Country, Golf, Sideline Cheer, Skiing, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field

Activities must be done with physical distancing of 6 feet. All athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned intermittently during practices and workouts. 

Cross Country and Track & Field:  Runners should maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing between individuals, no grouping (i.e., starts and finishes).  

Golf: Maintain appropriate physical distancing 6 feet apart. 

Sideline Cheer:  No physical contact – chants and jumps only, with physical distancing.

Swimming: Some outdoor pools will open; indoor pools remain closed.  Swim relays need to maintain physical distance.  Divers must use physical distancing when waiting for the board.   Activity must take place outdoors.

Tennis:  Must keep physical distance if playing singles and doubles.  Wipe down rackets and clean balls after use. 

Track & Field: No sharing of implements/equipment.  Padded equipment should be cleaned between uses.   Common equipment such as relay batons should be cleaned intermittently during practices and workouts. 

Moderate Risk Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Girls Lacrosse, Gymnastics, Ice Hockey, Soccer, Volleyball.

Chelsea Athletes take part in weight and conditioning workouts at the at Niehaus Field. Photo from Chelsea Boys’ Soccer Twitter.

Baseball: All players must be physically distant.  Players should not share gloves, batting gloves, helmets, and catcher’s equipment.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout session. 

Basketball:  Drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant; there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout.   Activity must take place outdoors.

Bowling:  Indoor bowling centers remained closed.

Girls Lacrosse: Drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant; there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout.   Players should not share lacrosse sticks.

Gymnastics: Equipment must be cleaned between rotations of athletes.  Physical distancing must be maintained.  Training must take place outdoors.

Ice Hockey: Indoor rinks remain closed.  If an outdoor rink is used for roller hockey, drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant and there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the puck, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout.   Players should not share hockey sticks.

Soccer: Drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant; there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout session.

Softball: All players must be physically distant.  Players should not share gloves, batting gloves, helmets, and catcher’s equipment.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout session.  

Volleyball: Drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant; there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout session.  Activity must take place outdoors.

Higher Risk Sports: Boys Lacrosse, Competitive Cheer, Football, Wrestling.

Boys Lacrosse: Drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant; there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout.  Contact with other players is not allowed.  Players should not share lacrosse sticks or face off.

Competitive Cheer: Conditioning and individual technique/choreography work.  No physical contact- chants and jumps, only, with physical distancing. Activity must take place outdoors.

Football:  Drills are allowed that keep all players physically distant; there should be no physical contact or close proximity of players.  Common equipment, such as the ball, must be cleaned as permitted during a practice or workout.  Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no use of tackling dummies/shields/sleds.  Protective equipment other than helmets is prohibited; helmets may not be shared.

Wrestling: Conditioning, mirror drills with spacing, no contact. Wrestlers may drill without touching a teammate (if physical distancing is adhered to).   Activity must take place outdoors.

Dexter athletics opened with conditioning workouts three days a week at the twin turfs with a pre-screening for each athlete answering a series of questions and their temperature taken before practice. They are required to wear a mask when entering and leaving the facilities but not required to wear the mask during conditioning. They are to bring their own towel and water bottle and no sharing of devices, pencil’s or equipment is allowed.

Positive symptoms of Covid-19 will be reviewed and if necessary, athletes would be isolated or sent home with communication with parent or guardian occurring.

Individual teams have scheduled workouts while following the MHSAA guidelines.

Chelsea set up a weight and conditioning program at the football stadium with teams scheduled for one-hour sessions.

Individual teams also scheduled outdoor workouts.

All workouts are following the same MHSAA guidelines of social distancing, mask upon entry and dismissal, and athletes bringing their own water and towels.

Coaches for both schools are required to wear facemasks during the workouts.

Both schools have moved temporary weight rooms out to the turf fields. Indoor gyms and weight rooms will not be reopened until Governor Whitmer allows public gyms and exercise facilities to be reopened. Weights are being sanitized after each use by a student athlete.

Prior to 2020, the MHSAA has made the week of July 4th a dead period where teams could not practice. It has been waived for this summer due to the athletic hiatus. Practices will be optional during this period.

Both schools had the weight/conditioning workouts set up for two weeks with hopes of Governor Whitmer opening things up more, but this has not happened so they will be extending the practices until things change.

Chelsea Athletic Director Brad Bush and Assistant AD Jason Morris held a webinar for athletes and families. They are hoping that by the time fall sports practices officially start in August that things will be back to or close to normal, but the summer workouts will be different than past summers.

As people have seen that what is normal in the past is not now, things could change. Student-athletes and coaches are preparing for the fall of 2020 like things will be the same with hopes they are allowed to return to the competitive fields and courts like they have in the past.

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