White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi intend to start winter sports practices on Monday, Jan. 4, the date designated by Gov. Tim Walz last week in his Executive Order regarding the state’s response to COVID-19. Winter sports include basketball, hockey, wrestling, alpine skiing, nordic skiing, gymnastics, dance team and boys swimming and diving.
“Currently we are scheduled to start with practices on January 4th. At this point there is no guidance on when we will be able to start competitions,” said Brian Peloquin, White Bear Lake activities director.
“We are hopeful we will be able to begin on January 14th, which allows for the standard 10 days between the first practice and first competition per MSHSL bylaws. My biggest concern right now is that pools are closed. With Boys Swim and Dive scheduled to begin on January 4th, all high schools are currently without the ability to use their pool for practice.”
Aaron Forsythe, Mahtomedi activities director, also confirmed: “We're starting practices on January 4th, and will play games as soon as we're allowed to.”
Gov. Walz’s original four-week shutdown of school sports, restaurants, fitness clubs, and other aspects of life, issued in November, was due to expire on Dec. 18. The governor updated his orders on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
"This is a killer virus that we've learned much about and have a lot of tools to fight," Walz said, "but we've got a little left to fight."
Among those eagerly awaiting his decree were high school athletes and coaches, whose seasons were already delayed by several weeks, and the Minnesota State High School League. The league announced later that day that winter sports may start practice Jan. 4 while the first date for competitions was not yet determined.
Erich Martens, MSHSL executive director, stated:
“While we recognize that our students, coaches and families are anxious to return to activities and athletics, the Jan. 4, 2021, date aligns well with many member schools’ calendars as they return from extended breaks. This opportunity to participate in athletics and activities also comes with great responsibility. It is critical that all students, coaches, directors and officials maintain the highest standard of health and safety, both in and outside of school. Everyone must actively share the responsibility of reducing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping themselves and others safe and healthy.”