By Chris Chaney
For many area high school student-athletes, they are never out of season.
Off-season weight lifting, travel teams and sanctioned scholastic workouts consumed their summer months, but that light treading will be lifted tomorrow, Aug. 1, as the fall sports season officially gets underway.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association, which presides over football, soccer, golf, girls’ tennis, field hockey and cross country in the fall, set the Aug. 1 date as the first time student-athletes and coaches can have regular practice.
Prior to the Aug. 1 date, fall sports coaches were allowed to arrange and supervise conditioning, weight training and physical fitness programs “so long as no coaching and instruction of sports techniques and skills (was) provided,” according to the OHSAA Sports Regulations.
Specifically, during the summer months between June 1 and July 31, coaches of the team sports of baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, ice hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball and the individual sports of cross country, track and field and wrestling are allowed a maximum of 10 days of coaching to get a head start on their season preparations, which before could only be installed using the relatively newly adapted individual skill instruction.
The individual skill instruction, effective of Sept. 13 of last year, allowed coaches of baseball, basketball, cross country, field hockey, football, ice hockey, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball and wrestling to provide individual instruction anytime outside of the season of play, so long as it wasn’t the no-contact period.
For football, ice hockey, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball and wrestling, the no-contact period constitutes a 28-day period ranging from the day after the last contest to four weeks later. For baseball, basketball, ice hockey or softball, the no contact period begins four weeks before Labor Day and stretches until Labor Day, meaning this year’s no-contact period for basketball, baseball, hockey and softball will run from Aug. 4 to Sept. 1.
For those fall sports beginning their official season tomorrow, the OHSAA has also set strict guidelines that must be followed in the run up to the beginning of the regular season, including the amount of scrimmages that can be contested, the number of games that can be put on a regular season schedule as well as the first date that regular season games can be contested.
For cross country, the first authorized contest is set for Aug. 18 with a cap on 16 regular season meets. The cross country teams are not allowed to have any scrimmages prior to the season starting.
Golf has the quickest turnaround in terms of when the season begins and when teams can have their first contest with the first regular season match allowed to take place on Aug. 6. Golf teams are allowed to have one scrimmage at any time before of during the season and must cap their contest regular season schedule at 18 events.
Soccer, both boys’ and girls’, can begin regular season play on Aug. 16 and teams are afforded four scrimmages after the beginning of practice and one preview, which is one half of a regular-length contest. The first day regular season play can commence is Aug. 16 and only 16 games can be scheduled.
Girls’ tennis can begin regular season play on Aug. 8 and have one scrimmage before the playing of the first match. Teams are allowed 22 contests to be scheduled.
Girls’ volleyball can begin regular season play on Aug. 16 and can have five scrimmages and a preview after practice begins. Like tennis, volleyball caps their regular season contests at 22 per team.
Finally, football has the most lag time between practice starting and the first contest allowed to be played: 25 days. Teams are allowed to play two scrimmages or one scrimmage, one preview and one Jamboree game, which must be held between Aug. 12 and 23. Teams can schedule 10 regular season games.
For more information about the fall sports season, the OHSAA and their guidelines, log on to the organization’s website at ohsaa.org.