NOTRE DAME COACHES, ATHLETES PIVOT WITH CHANGES TO FALL SPORTS SEASON

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August 20, 2020

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

This fall, athletics at Notre Dame may seem a little lighter depending how Southeast Michigan and Oakland County fare during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still gripping most of the state and country.

On Thursday, Aug. 20, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) announced its updated guidelines for the fall. Under those stipulations, all fall sports except for football can be played in Region 6 (northern Lower Peninsula) and Region 8 (Upper Peninsula), which are classified as being in Phase 5 as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “MI Safe Start Plan Roadmap,” as well as in bordering states that are allowing athletic competitions. Only cross country, golf and tennis may hold competitions in all other parts of the state.

As far as volleyball, soccer and swimming, those teams may continue practicing outdoors in Phase 4 regions – in other words, all other parts of the state – but those sports may not host competitions until given the green light by the governor. Sideline cheer (practices) are allowed until the preseason downtime for competitive cheer, which begins on Oct. 25.

“As of right now, outside of football, everything is still on as planned for the fall season,” said Aaron Crouse, assistant athletic director for Notre Dame. “Though we were hoping to be able to compete in boys soccer, girls swimming and diving, and volleyball, at this time our coaches and student-athletes are using the extended practice time to ensure that they are as prepared as possible when competition is permitted.”

Crouse said early-season contest schedules will likely need to be adjusted while cross country, girls golf, and boys tennis contests will remain scheduled as planned outside of minor changes to comply with the new MHSAA guidelines for tournaments and invitationals in relation to COVID-19.

“We continue to look forward to watching our girls golf, boys tennis, cross country, and equestrian teams compete and are confident that when competition is allowed in additional sports, all of our Notre Dame teams will be ready,” he said.

Maureen Radulski, assistant athletic director, acknowledged that teams from Notre Dame could technically travel to Regions 6 or 8 and bordering states to compete, though this may be easier said than done.

“We are limited in the number of contest dates we can play and the number of teams that can compete in invitationals, and many of the schools in these regions are hesitant to open up their facilities to those traveling from a distance,” she explained. “The schools in these regions of Michigan are all a minimum of three hours away, which poses a travel and logistical obstacle as well.”

The fall sports season kicked off in earnest on Aug. 10 with the start of outdoor football practice. Things quickly came to a grinding halt however when the MHSAA announced Aug. 14 that it was moving football to the spring. The MHSAA plans to announce a revised season timeline for football in the spring at a later date.

“Knowing all of the work that our athletes and coaches have put in during the spring, summer, and opening week of practice, we were disappointed to not have the opportunity to watch them compete this fall,” said Athletic Director Betty Wroubel. “The same can be said for sideline cheer, dance and band performances.”

The MHSAA is however allowing 16 additional practice dates for football, along with all other fall sports, Wroubel said, which gives student-athletes an opportunity to continue to be involved with the sport, interact with their teammates and coaches, and further prepare for the upcoming season in the spring.

“Though the upcoming season taking place in the spring will be different than what we are all used to, we are looking forward to watching our teams compete later in the school year and hopeful for our coaches and student-athletes that there will still be a season, unlike last spring,” she said.

As student-athletes returned to campus this week, the Athletic Department was hard at work making sure they had a safe place to practice.

Some of those measures put in place include:

  • Student-athlete screenings for symptoms of COVID-19 both on and before arriving to campus (in addition to arriving on campus, this screening is done prior to any workouts, practices or contests)
  • Daily temperature check recording of student-athletes on campus
  • Mandated use of facial coverings upon entering the campus and when not involved in activities)
  • No permitted use of indoor facilities (locker rooms, gyms, or Betty A. Wroubel Performance Center, etc.) Restrooms are allowed with occupancy requirements.
  • Hand sanitation a minimum of every 30 minutes
  • No school-provided water bottles or refilling stations
  • Regular (at minimum every 30 minutes) sanitation of athletic equipment and facilities.

“Having seen how the summer camps and fall practices have gone, we are confident in the protocols that are in place and our coaches have done an outstanding job of following them,” Crouse said.

The MHSAA, in coordination with the state of Michigan and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), has prepared guidelines for the phased in return of athletics. Some of the changes that student-athletes and coaches may notice this year include:

  • No or limited spectators outside of essential game personnel
  • Limited number of teams at tournaments or invitationals
  • Alternative arrangements on team benches to promote social distancing
  • The use of face coverings by coaches and officials
  • The absence of traditional pre- or post-game handshakes.
  • Staggered start times or more time between different levels of competition

Additional changes will be implemented on a sport-by-sport basis.

“Having the chance to work side-by-side with the MHSAA, MIAAA and MHSAA Representative Council on a daily basis, we know that this group continues to evaluate all options and make decisions they believe are best for student-athletes,” Wroubel said. “We are fortunate to have Mr. Mark Uyl leading our state association and appreciate his leadership now more than ever."

To view schedules by sport for the fall, visit https://www.ndpma.org/athletics

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? dlai@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.