CSAA assigner faces challenges during pandemic

WEIDMAN – It was a busy fall for former Chippewa Hills coach Jim Novar and it’s not likely to be a dull winter either.

Novar is an assigner of referees and officials for area high school events, and it’s obviously been a challenge keeping up with changing events during the COVID pandemic.

Looking at the fall season, “generally speaking, when it’s all over with, we got through it,” Novar said. “It was a matter of making changes all the time. We made a lot of changes. John Mayer helps me with football. He was busy all the time, changing games.

“We had the COVID issue so we were moving games around, moving officials around. It was a busy time of the year for us.”

Volleyball, Novar said, “got compromised quite a bit. A lot of schools do tournaments for fund-raisers. It helps their programs They can make $1,000 to $1,500 on a Saturday hosting a tournament. But the state did away with all tournaments. All they could do is host quads.”

The MHSAA usually takes care of assigning officials for postseason tournaments.

“In baseball and softball the assigner does the district,” Novar said. “For basketball and football, the state has always done it. But this year, the assigners did the first two rounds of the football season because they had more rounds than they normally have. Then we jump out and (MHSAA) takes care of it.”

The winter season was coming along for assigning officials, but state health department officials put a lockdown on sports. Speculation is sports practices won't return until mid-January at the earliest for winter sports, with competition to start in late January.

“The winter is going to be very interesting,” Novar said. “As far as the CSAA goes, we’re pretty solid, we have our January schedule. If we start January, we’re solid. It’s going to be like a conference schedule. Nonconference games probably no longer exist this year.”

The state has extended the pause to mid-January and what the schedule will look like remains to be seen.

In December, Novar started scheduling umpires for area baseball and softball games.

“I’m scheduling all year round,” he said.