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Gov. Lee's order, TSSAA allows contact sports to resume

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Gov. Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a Tuesday, July 28, 2020 press conference. 

After months of building and debating contingency plans, the high school sports season might be able to simply begin on time.

After Gov. Bill Lee announced Executive Order No. 55 to allow high-risk, contact sports like football and girls soccer to resume Tuesday, the TSSAA followed suit with their own announcement – returning football and girls soccer to their original season schedule.

Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA, said that he is “pleased that we were able to develop some very specific guidelines for every sport that will allow our kids to get out on their fields and fully participate in football and girls’ soccer this fall.”

“Children across the state are counting on us – school administrators and coaches – to proceed with practices and competitions safely while being very mindful of the requirements and modifications that we have put in place,” Childress said. “Our return to play is a partnership, and it’s important for everyone to do their part.”

Although contact practice is now permissible, the regulations and requirements for practice and competition adopted by the TSSAA Board of Control at their July 22 meeting are still in place for all sports and must be followed. Full guidelines are included by clicking here.

As for coaches, a collective sigh of relief mixed with excitement moved through Williamson County.

“Let’s just say our coach’s group text is going really heavy right now,” Summit football coach Brian Coleman said. “I know we live in different times now, but we think this is a huge step forward.

"We are still on egg shells sort of, but let’s just hope everybody continues trying to do their part so we can keep finding some normalcy.”

The Spartans finished runner-up in Class 5A last season. Their original season-opener against rival Independence is back on for Aug. 21 if nothing else changes.

“We were over-looking independence because we didn’t know when we might get to play really, but now we can kind of shift some of our focus,” Coleman said. “I just think this is really great for everybody. We aren’t out of the woods by no means, but we are ready to put some pads on and go.”

The TSSAA said no changes to the 2020 football schedule, regular season or otherwise, will be made following the announcements Tuesday. The contingency plan for football passed by the Board of Control last week stated that if contact practice could resume prior to Aug. 4, then no contests would be rescheduled. Therefore, the date of first contests for football remains at Aug. 21 with state championships Dec. 3-5 in Cookeville.

Changes to the girls soccer schedule will also return to the original schedule with Aug. 17 being the first contests and state championships to be held Oct. 28-31 in Murfreesboro. The adopted plan last week essentially pushed the season back about two weeks and eliminated all play for August. 

“The girls and I have been super hopeful for this,” first-year Ravenwood coach Jessica Mancini said. “After what happened this spring, we have all been nervous about fall sports, but being able to get started is just exciting.

“We have been doing the best we can and the girls are super positive and now that we kind of have that go-ahead, we are all just excited to get going.”

Mancini, who was an assistant last year when he Lady Raptors claimed the school’s first Class AAA state championship, said – similarly to Coleman – that staying healthy and following guidelines is a focus

“We want it to stay this way, so hopefully we can all stay healthy and keep this positive energy,” she said.

“This is good news for many kids and their families,” Childress added, “but the reality is that the virus will continue to be with us and we have to be smart about taming the spread.

"Every adult and every participant in every sport must do their part and follow the guidelines set forth by TSSAA and the Governor’s office to help mitigate these risks.”

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