Niwot adjusts to CHSAA postponements in COVID-19 era
August 12, 2020
Direct impacts of COVID-19 have officially reached the fall with the Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA) announcing its rearranged 2020-21 athletics and activities calendar.
Instead of traditional fall, winter and spring sports seasons, CHSAA will now hold A, B, C and D seasons that will extend through June. Most notably, football, volleyball and boys soccer will move their usual fall slate to the early-March Season C. Boys tennis, golf, softball and cross country are continuing as usual with an abbreviated season, now known as the A season, and boys and girls basketball will be postponed until early-January for the B season.
For Niwot High School Athletic Director Joe Brown, these rearrangements brought a mix of emotions.
"There was a lot of happiness that we have the sports that we have that are going to press forward, and I'm so thankful that we're going to have those opportunities," Brown said. "There's also a little bit of sadness for our kids and coaches as their season gets pushed down the road. But as part of that sadness, we also look at it as it's a postponement, not a cancellation."
Some of that sadness comes on the heels of pre-season workouts coming to an abrupt halt. Brown said those delayed sports will finish up the week of Aug. 2 and Niwot will reassess in September in hopes of resuming practices.
On-campus games/meets will be another contingency for Brown to evaluate. Brown said he will keep a close eye on local outdoor capacity regulations and expects to enforce a limited number of people per player coming to events.
In a recent update, CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green stressed the importance of making smart and health-centered decisions in the midst of athletic resumption. She noted that just one COVID-19 case could shut down classrooms and entire school districts in rural areas.
"The safety of all parties involved with the high school experience will always take precedence over a game, scholarship, club season or personal choices," Blanford-Green said.
Niwot students, athletes included, will also have to deal with an online-only academic model throughout September. Brown said local schools and CHSAA are still working on online eligibility requirements, but Niwot will continue to monitor its student-athletes' engagement with online classes. Additionally, practices will be moved back in the day to allow students time to arrive on campus.
One positive for Brown is that academic material will be more accessible online for student-athletes who may have missed in-person classes due to athletic events. Finding optimism in the face of adversity is crucial for Brown as he guides Niwot through these tough times.
"We're looking for the silver lining in everything because that's what we need right now and that's what our kids need right now is that positivity and looking at (challenges) as opportunities to stay positive, because attitude is so much of it," Brown said. "If we can come in with a positive attitude and make something that might not seem as great at the time and do something good, then we are doing right by our kids."
Community support is a large part of what keeps Niwot athletics strong, and like every other school in the state, the postponement of football and volleyball creates challenges.
"Financial constraints are going to be a real deal and it's a real deal for everybody right now," Brown said. "We're going to be good stewards and fiscally responsible in everything that we do and make sure that we don't cut corners that would have a negative impact on kids, but spend wisely.
"We're so blessed to live in a community that loves and cares about their kids and their student athletes. I know that if support is needed, that community will come through. Yeah, it's a big concern, (but) everybody's fishing from the same pond... We'll find a way to make it work."