Not so fast … Brevard County ADs push back start time for fall sports

Holy Trinity evaluating when its fall seasons will open


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Brevard County's athletic directors voted Tuesday to push the start date for fall sports from July 27 to Aug. 3.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

A day after the FHSAA Board of Directors voted to stick with its current schedule for fall sports amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Brevard Public School athletic directors have opted to push things back a week.

The county’s athletic directors voted 14-2 on Tuesday to begin practices and tryouts on Aug. 3.

The FHSAA had approved a start date of July 27 in a meeting that lasted five hours Monday night.

Information on Viera High School’s BPS athletic website (www.brevardschools.org/domain/8216) was updated Tuesday to reflect the changes for all six of its fall sports and includes times, dates and locations.

“In light of the FHSAA board meeting July 20th, they have granted districts the flexibility to begin when able or deemed safest,” Viera High athletic director Maggie Davis wrote in an email.

“With so many unknown factors, we felt it was essential we postpone by one week to ensure our staffs are equipped with the necessary equipment and training prior to tryouts.”

Holy Trinity’s athletic department, meanwhile, is also keeping a close watch on the situation and athletic director James Phillips emphasized the school will also do what is best for its students.

With 9,373 new coronavirus cases – and 134 deaths – reported by Florida’s Department of Health on Tuesday, the number of cases in the state is just below 370,000 with 4,413 total cases in Brevard County.

The FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) recommended Monday night that football and girls volleyball be shut down until further notice as numbers continue to spike throughout the state.

Several benchmarks were listed as a requirement for football and volleyball returning. They included a downward trajectory of coronavirus cases, a positive-case test rate of less than 5 percent for at least 28 days and two weeks of practices before games could be held.

The committee also recommended fans and school bands not be allowed in the stands during games.

Several members of the FHSAA board said Monday night they would like to have more time to read and digest the information contained in the SMAC report and they planned to meet again, possibly by the end of this week. The date and time for that meeting has not yet been finalized due to scheduling conflict among the board members.

While the board may ultimately choose to pass another measure regarding the start of fall sports at that next meeting, Monday night’s proposal to stay with the original start date of July 27 was passed by a 10-5 vote.

It also included the provisions that the FHSAA will come up with a date for each school and each sport to declare whether it will take part in the state championship series. Schools who opt out of the state series will be eligible to play regular-season games until the state championship series.

The vote was not popular in some areas of the state, particularly in South Florida where the coronavirus numbers will make it nearly impossible for football teams to begin practice July 27. Other sports like bowling, cross country, golf and swimming may have a hard time finding locations to practice or play.

That inequity may force the board to look more closely at its plans during its next meeting.

Texas announced Tuesday, it is pushing back the start of football season for its larger schools by one month. Georgia has already announced its football season has been pushed back by two weeks. California’s fall sports have been moved to the winter and spring.

As for now, the FHSAA is sticking with its calendar. But it’s still up to local schools and districts to decide how they will proceed going forward.

“It was a very long and cumbersome meeting last night,” Holy Trinity athletic director James Phillips wrote in an email on Tuesday.

“The outcome was certainly different to what I was excepting, especially after the recommendations put forward by SMAC (Sports Medicine Advisory Committee) at the beginning of the meeting. The positives to take away from the meeting is that it looks like our student-athletes will get a chance to play in the fall.

“However, we all want to be sure they are able to do it safely. At Holy Trinity, we will continue to monitor our summer workouts and review each team’s return to play plan before we will make a decision on when we will officially start our fall sports season”.

Clarification: The vote of Brevard County's athletc directors was informal according to Nicki Hensley, Public Information Officer for Brevard Publiic Schools. BPS has not made a decision regarding the start of fall sports in conjuntion with the reopening of schools. Hensley wrote in an email that BPS will release an interim statement on Thursday.