Winter sports teams begin noncontact practices

Basketball teams were allowed to have noncontact practices starting last Saturday. (Herald Review file photo)

Basketball teams were allowed to have noncontact practices starting last Saturday. (Herald Review file photo)

REED CITY - Athletic directors and coaches have been reacting to the news last week from the MHSAA on winter sports returning, starting Saturday (Jan. 16), with noncontact practices.

This came after the state made extensions through Jan. 31 and the MHSAA said sports like basketball and wrestling could not start on Jan. 22 as had originally been scheduled.

Girls and boys basketball cannot have contact practices until Feb. 1 and they can start play on Feb. 4. Wrestling and competitive cheer can also have contact practices on Feb. 1 and start competition on Feb. 8.

Bowling is regarded as a noncontact sport and can have its first contact on Jan. 22.

"We are starting basketball and wrestling this weekend," Reed City athletic director Kris Griffin said last week. "Even though it is noncontact, we feel strongly that we need to get our kids together and work toward the start of these seasons."

"It was a bit of a surprise," Evart athletic director Jay Wallace said. "We were expecting to be able to practice, looking for guidance on spectator limitations. High school will start noncontact practice on Saturday."

"We have a plan to start on the 16th, but during this time there is a lot of uncertainty, but as of now we are planning on moving accordingly as the state allows," Baldwin athletic director Callistus Ezukwa said.

"At Baldwin, both boys and girls basketball will begin practices on Saturday," girls coach Nikki Bergman said. "This most recent announcement did come as somewhat of a surprise. For whatever reason, this one felt different and more disappointing. We plan to practice within the guidelines released by the MHSAA. I feel like we need to provide these kids with an opportunity to interact socially, be physically active and develop their basketball skills.

"We'll do it from a distance and with no contact, but it's better than nothing. It'll be good to be in the gym again and start to inch our way towards a basketball season."

Shawn Ruppert is both the athletic director and baseball coach at Pine River.

"We will start conditioning and individual skills on the 16th," he said. "The timetable is now probably more realistic for our athletes. The previous schedule did not leave much time to cover basics that need to be practiced for quality athletics to take place. I am not thrilled about the overlap with spring sports. With dual sport athletes and indoor spring practices, we basically have a two-week wait on spring sports, but this was not unexpected."

"Yes, we will be starting practice on Saturday," Pine River coach Brian Goodenow said. "Practices will consist of conditioning, individual shooting drills, working on offensive sets with no defense, defensive drills, etc. Despite not having competitive drills or games yet, it will be great to have the players in the gym to begin getting them connected as a team. The disconnect has been very hard on all of the kids."