SALT LAKE CITY — The day after Memorial Day is traditionally when fall high school team sports can officially start summer conditioning and practicing, and despite COVID-19’s continued presence in Utah, that’s exactly what happened for much of the state on Tuesday — with many restrictions of course.
Of the state’s 41 school districts, 25 approved their teams to start practicing on Tuesday if they followed the guidelines set by Gov. Gary Herbert’s 4.4 recovery plan, their county health department and additional school district policies.
The social distancing and sanitization requirements meant practices were anything but normal, but for the football, volleyball, girls soccer and 1A baseball teams across the state who took advantage, it felt great to be back together.
“Honestly, whether we were able to be on the field and do anything football related is irrelevant. Just getting the opportunity to be back and around the kids is awesome. We go from seeing these guys on a daily basis to not at all for over two months. That’s difficult. So to me, the biggest and best thing is just getting the opportunity to see these guys, catch up, see how they are doing, see how their family is, etc.,” said Brighton football coach Justin Hemm.
South Summit football coach Mike Grajek said he had players out on the field at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, and all had to sign a waiver and were screened for sickness before starting.
Even though restrictions from the school districts limits how intensive team activities can be, teams who started Tuesday would seem to have a slight competitive advantage over teams from other school districts who will start in the coming weeks.
While 25 school districts gave the go-ahead Tuesday, Millard School District will likely allow its teams to start practicing in a limited capacity later this week.
Ten other school districts approved their teams to begin practicing next Monday: Alpine, Beaver, Davis, Nebo, North Summit, Ogden, Sevier, Tintic, Tooele and Weber.
Ogden football coach Erik Thompson said there are obviously a lot of requirements from the health department to begin practicing, but “we can manage. We’re excited to start lifting, running and doing drills then.”
Jordan, Murray and Rich School Districts aren’t clearing teams to resume practicing until June 8.
Park City School District hasn’t made an announcement on when its teams can start practicing, and football coach Josh Montzingo is unaware of a decision being made anytime soon.