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LHSAA pushing forward with plan to play fall sports

Friday, July 10, 2020
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Leader photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT

Cedar Creek football players Jed Stephens, Ladd Thompson and Regan Pike are pictured during a recent conditioning workout.

As COVID-19 numbers continue rising on a daily basis, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) is keeping the ball rolling as far as fall prep sports are concerned.

LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine on Wednesday issued a memorandum to state principals, athletic directors, coaches and officials saying the LHSAA’s commitment to fall sports remains strong.

The memo reads, “Now, more than ever, we are reminded that our communities need high school sports. Interscholastic competition supports the physical, emotional and mental well-being of student-athletes across Louisiana.

“The LHSAA is fully committed to the safe return of high school athletics this fall. We encourage member schools to follow LHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee Guidelines to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Reopening high school sports depends on all of us working together.”

On Monday, State Senator Cleo Fields, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, sent a letter to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) as well as state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley and leaders of state school board and superintendent groups asking that all athletic activities at K -12 public schools in Louisiana be suspended through December because of COVID-19.

In the letter, Fields said be believes the issue is “too critical” to leave up to the LHSAA.

”I am requesting the board to include a suspension of ALL athletic activities for this fall in any rules adopted regarding reopening of schools for the coming year,” Fields said in his letter. ”This suspension should include all activities of any kind that would include student in-person participation in a group setting, including conditioning, practice and team meetings.”

BESE responded to Fields’ letter with a statement on Tuesday, saying that enacting rules governing athletics is outside the powers of the board as spelled out in the state Constitution. In that statement BESE said it has the authority to make recommendations to schools but not the power to ban fall sports. The BESE statement listed the LHSAA and individual school districts are the sports decision makers.

BESE is expected to hold a special meeting, possibly Tuesday, to enact emergency minimum standards for schools to enact ahead of the reopening of classrooms.

Last week, Ruston High School suspended football workouts for two weeks after a player tested positive for the coronavirus.

Conditioning workouts for Lincoln Parish’s other two high school football teams — Cedar Creek and Lincoln Preparatory School — remain ongoing.

“We haven’t seen any issues,” said Lincoln Prep football coach Glen Hall. “I think that in this case, the fact that our numbers are low — we don’t have a whole lot of players — has been helpful with that. We don’t have the kind of numbers to worry about clusters the way bigger schools do.”

Cedar Creek athletics director/head baseball coach Ben Haddox said the future for high school sports during the 2020-21 academic year remains unclear.

“Logistically it’s a nightmare because there are so many different variables involved with the pandemic,” Haddox said. “There’s still a lot that’s going to have to be considered and worked out. And that’s seems like a pretty monumental task.

“The only thing I do know right now is that we better have a spring baseball season with the way so much travel baseball and that kind of thing is being played right now.”