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Summer sports impacted by 2021-22 prep sports calendar
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PREP SPORTS

Summer sports impacted by 2021-22 prep sports calendar

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When the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) released the 2021-22 calendar with dates for when practices, games and postseason play starts for all four seasons, there was one noticeable difference.

Baseball and softball will start practice on May 2 in 2022 and games will commence two weeks later on May 16. That is a week shorter than preparations for the 2021 season.

That wasn't the only thing that caught peoples' attention.

With the early start for summer sports, it is impacting those that do both spring and summer sports. Postseason for girls golf, boys spring golf, soccer, and track and field runs into the opening week if not longer of the summer season.

State qualifying for track and field will take place on May 12 with the three-day state meet to follow on May 19-21. In soccer, late May will be when boys substate and girls regionals will take place, then the state tournament will run into early June.

"I just think if you're a non-suburban school that doesn't have incredible numbers in every sport, it is putting an incredible burden on kids, on programs and on families," Mason City baseball coach Troy Rood said. "It puts everybody in a tough situation. It puts kids in bad spots. It is going to naturally create some obstacles.

"I'm not a big fan of it, but like anything else, we'll get used to the new normal."

Golf and tennis are similar, with state tournaments slated for the final stretch of May and could go into the first day of June.

"May's just crazy anyway," Lake Mills softball head coach Bill Byrnes said. "It puts added stress on everybody."

It is a very different tone compared to the amount of time in between fall and winter sports and winter and spring sports.

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Cross Country ends the day before Halloween; boys fall golf ends on the weekend of October 8-9 and football runs until November 19. On the girls side, volleyball ends the first week of November and swimming ends on November 13.

Only football and girls swimming overlap start times from the end of the season to the start of the winter season, and the margin is four days. There is no overlap for when games start.

"You are creating more stress on a kid's life," Rood said.

In the four boys sports in the winter – basketball, bowling, swimming and wrestling – the minimum amount of days for a multi-sport athlete to recharge for a spring sport that isn't track and field is three days.

For boys playing basketball and running track, the practice start date for the latter is February 28. That's a week prior to the start of the basketball state tournament.

And on the girls side, the number of days between the end of the girls basketball season and the start of the track campaign is two days. That is the only sport with a winter end to spring start overlap.

"It is going to cause some adjustments," Central Springs athletic director Ethan Miller said. "I believe, with us as a conference, we can shift around to support those athletes. It is going to cause some additional communication."

Is the era of multi-sport high school athletes over, if not being in serious jeopardy? 

"I don't know," St. Ansgar softball head coach Lance Schutjer said. "I could see in some places, kids are going to have to make some choices. We encourage it. We're fortunate we get good numbers. It'll be tough, but we'll figure out a way to get through it."

There is a growing concern amongst coaches and even ADs that students who do a sport in every season will be at a greater risk to injury.

"If you look at the calendars of our student-athletes, that is a concern," Miller said. "It is really hard to develop a lot of speed, strength when you're constantly playing, constantly doing."

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at zachary.martin@globegazette.com and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.

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