The fall sports season for Florida high schools is scheduled to begin next Monday, but many area schools are choosing to push that back into August.
The Florida High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted (10-5) in favor of keeping the current calendar for the fall sports season — giving school districts the option to begin practice when it’s safe for them.
However, several counties throughout the state, including Charlotte and Sarasota, have already announced they will not begin on July 27.
“Personally I was looking for a bit more leadership and direction from the FHSAA,” Charlotte High athletic director Brian Nolan said in a text. “When their own medical task force votes unanimously to push volleyball and football back, I listen.
“I want what everyone wants, a return to normal activities. But during this crisis we have to work smart, put all safety precautions in place and continually evaluate what’s working and what we need to be better at.”
Charlotte County athletic directors — Nolan, Bob Bruglio of Port Charlotte and Ryan LaVallee of Lemon Bay — will meet on Wednesday before discussing options for the fall sports season with county athletic director Mike Desjardins.
Bruglio said there are several options on the table, including breaking off from the FHSAA for this year and competing in a tri-county conference that includes Lee and Collier counties.
If this option were chosen, it would allow Charlotte County schools to have more control over travel and competition — rather than being matched up with schools based on start dates.
For now, Charlotte County schools will continue conditioning and working out as they have been, but after the start of school was pushed back to Aug. 31, LaVallee said there’s not much reason to begin practicing so soon.
“I can appreciate (FHSAA) director (George) Tomyn’s position, ‘You can start on the 27th but we’re not making you,’” he said. “They’re leaving it up to the counties. It might not be bad in some counties and some may think they need to wait.
“With our school not opening until Aug. 31, I don’t think there’s any reason to start playing football on July 27. I would guess we’ll push it back at least a couple of weeks.”
While schools in Charlotte County will have to wait until Wednesday for a clearer picture, the Sarasota County School District met on Tuesday afternoon to discuss its approach to the fall sports season.
County athletic director James Slaton shared the plan with the Sun. It entails advancing to Phase 2 of the Return to Action Plan — which allows for work inside weight rooms — but with the modification that coaches must wear masks at all times and students must wear masks in the weight room.
The school board will meet again on Aug. 4 to vote on a start date for its fall sports season, which could be Aug. 10 at the earliest.
This means that teams in Sarasota County are assured to miss the Kickoff Classic preseason game as well as Week 1 of the regular season. If those games can be made up or not remains to be seen.
“I was hoping we could start Monday, but they put a date on it and that’s as good as anything,” Peacock said. “I feel like our kids are ready to get back to regular activities. Hopefully we can pick up the season with our Week 2 opponent. I think there’s a possibility we could make it up during the season though, maybe on a Monday or Tuesday night if schools are willing to.”
DeSoto County Athletic Director Leigha Murphy said there would be an update on Wednesday about their plans for the fall, but she also added that “...as far as football goes, myself and the head football coach (Bumper Hay) have been discussing options with the AD at North Fort Myers, and it is likely the we will follow the same route as Lee and Charlotte counties.”