Spring sports coaches worry about MHSAA moving football season


Mark Andrews still feels the sting of losing a full spring sports season.

The Portage Northern baseball coach had the Huskies in position to play a second straight state championship, but before the team could even take the field for a game, the 2020 season was lost.

In March, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Michigan High School Athletic Association to cancel the entire spring sports season, dashing aspirations for Andrews’ team as well as many others across the state. Now Andrews is worried about how the MHSAA’s decision to postpone the football season to spring will affect his team a year after having already had a heavily impacted season.

While Andrews was instrumental in getting the MHSAA to endorse 16 fall practices for spring sports, he still wasn’t too keen on spring sports that potentially had to compromise after what happened last spring.

“We are obviously unhappy that football is placed where it is and this is going to take our sports season – which we already lost last year – and now make it much shorter,” said Andrews. “We thought, ‘Well, give us some time in the fall to work with our guys,’ and they did, which I’m glad they at least did that, but I didn’t. not a big fan of the fact that they are I’m just going to put football in the middle of winter and spring sports and the problem is really the overlap. “

This overlap could mean that tough choices would have to be made by athletes who play soccer and a spring sport. And while Andrews thinks his program would be suitable in this situation given its size, his concern is also with small schools that might not be so lucky.

“One of our main concerns is losing children,” Andrews said. “The other thing is, there are high schools where their entire baseball team is made up of football players. So if their football team has a run, they might be weeks behind, so that just creates logistical issues. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve coached football for years and want to see these kids have a season, but I’d rather see them have it now.

“My personal thoughts were to give (football) a five-game non-playoff season and that wouldn’t barely affect baseball. But they’re going to want the playoffs and they’re probably going to let them have them. Our football team is pretty good. They could probably spend a few weeks in the playoffs, which might prevent us from having some of our baseball players, which we’ll handle, but I don’t think some schools can.

“It’s just that this is all a mess and (the MHSAA) is in a no-win situation and I understand that as well. Half of the people are going to be unhappy. This is a bad situation.

MHSAA says it will work to avoid overlap with traditional football and spring sports

Andrews isn’t the only spring sports coach wondering what a spring football season will mean.

Ann Arbor Huron baseball coach David Brooks said his biggest concern was how his players might be forced to choose between playing for school or playing travel baseball if a football season pushes back. baseball in the summer.

“Now the kids are going to have to make a decision and if you ask me how much money some of these kids are paying to play travel ball it’s going to be difficult,” he said. “My main concern is whether I will be competing against the travel ball. This is something that I certainly hope I don’t have to do.

The MHSAA is still working on a schedule for football and how traditional spring sports will be affected.

For Muskegon Mona Shores baseball coach Brandon Bard, there are more questions than answers.

“There are countless things that cross your mind. I’ve had so many conversations with the local coaches I’m friends with, and I think we all share the same concerns, ”Bard said. “If something bad happens and we have to lose another season of baseball, it will be difficult. But there are so many unknowns right now and no one really knows what’s going on.

Spring sports normally begin with trials in mid-March, with some competitions scheduled before spring break. Michigan’s unpredictable spring weather can bring its own planning issues.

Oak Park girls’ track coach Brandon Jiles said that because of this, having football during this time of year could end up being a positive for her schedule.

“It could be a gift and a curse depending on how we look at it,” Jiles said. “Usually, with the track starting on March 12th, we usually lose about 4-5 weeks of quality training because the weather is really bad in March and early April. So I was thinking that maybe because they hit the track again in mid-May, June and maybe early July, it might give us a chance to compete in better times so that was one of the perks. that I thought about.

“I just hope we have a season and if we have a season it doesn’t matter when that’s fine with me because for us to race in May and June is not a bad thing because we will be doing a lot better with the weather. just hope we have a season and i want footballers to have a season because they deserve the opportunity to play.

While questions remain, the approval of 16 fall practices has given coaches encouraging news for their programs.

“I’m excited for all the coaches and players,” said Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett baseball coach Dan Cimini. “They can spend time with their coaches that they missed in the spring. I know it’s been tough for a lot of people, but it’s an opportunity to build that support and mentally prepare these kids to play spring sports and be with their coaches and teammates.

“I enjoy the MHSAA. It hasn’t been easy, and they’ve done a really good job of trying to do whatever they can to put all the sports on the field because it’s hard on everyone. People sometimes forget that whoever it is, even the people who make the decisions, it’s super hard and these are tough times. If we all come together and are positive and roll with the punches, we’ll get through that and get back to normal before we know it. “

There is still a long time to go before spring arrives. Questions will continue to arise even if some are answered. But for Cimini, whatever happens, his goal is to be ready when his team return to the pitch.

“Once the football schedule comes out, whether it’s five or six games, whether it’s a full season or the playoffs, or whatever they come up with, I’ll adapt accordingly and be behind all of those. kids who want to play football, “he said.” It’s a year. It’s not like we have to do it all the time, and if we all work together and do what we’re supposed to do, it all depends on the kids anyway.

“Either way, I’m all for the decision and I’m happy to plug in and see everyone on the playing fields hopefully and to be safe.”


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