Welcome back, Boise student-athletes.
The Boise School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the district’s plan to return to athletics, which have been on hold since Nov. 30, when schools were also switched to distance learning.
The plan to bring sports back starts Tuesday. The district will be holding limited workouts until Dec. 22, at which point there will be tryouts for basketball and the first practices for wrestling, cheer and dance.
The first competition is scheduled for early in the new year, leaving every program with a half season.
Girls basketball: Jan. 5, with regular season ending on Jan. 30.
Boys basketball: Jan. 8, with regular season ending on Feb. 11.
Wrestling: Jan. 6, dual meets ending on Feb. 16.
Cheer: Perform from Jan. 6 to Feb. 25, districts on Feb. 27.
Dance: Perform from Jan. 6 to Feb. 25, districts on Feb. 27.
The plan was presented to the board by Area Director Brian Walker, who laid out the protocols that teams will be required to follow. These include temperature checks, self-checks done by all athletes and coaches, masks being worn during practices, limiting practice time and students practicing in cohorts to limit exposure to one another.
When asked by the board about playing sports with masks, district athletics supervisor Jon Ruzicka said he has seen some basketball competition with masks, but not wrestling. He added the wrestling coaches are unsure of how that will work.
Walker said there will be no attendance permitted for Boise School District events, something that all 5A District III schools are following. The governor and State Board of Education have both mandated that schools allow no more than 10 spectators at events.
“The 5A SIC has agreed, no fans,” Superintendent Coby Dennis said, to make the point clear.
District Deputy Superintendent Lisa Roberts said the plan has been run past health experts from both Saint Alphonsus Medical Group and St. Luke’s Medical Center.
“The protocols in place are rock solid, in terms of mitigating spread,” Roberts said. “While acknowledging that it increases the chance of spread.”
Trustee Beth Oppenheimer said she hopes the students and families will take COVID-19 protocols seriously, adding that the school’s protocols are only part of the equation.
“It’s up to you,” she posed. “I don’t want to see basketball players at a party with 40 of your closest friends. And it’s on the parents, too. This is a plea to the parents, the students, the teachers and coaches. Do what you can to keep the numbers down.”
The vote’s outcome is a welcome return to some normalcy for some students.
Boise High senior Allison Ross finds herself looking for things to do after school.
“It’s super, super weird,” Ross said. “I’m used to, for all four years, going to practice after school. Now I have a lot of time to think. I’m just watching TV and hanging out with friends here and there.”
For Boise junior Ava Oakland, missing out on basketball has taken a toll on her mental health.
“Basketball takes a lot of stress away. I can clear my mind,” Oakland said. “Now it’s difficult. I’m just at home, stressing on things more.”
Missing the opening weeks of the preseason means that the Boise Brave will be behind when they return to the court. Ross said the team was planning on implementing a new offense, which would have been easier to do with more preseason games.
“I feel bad for the freshmen and sophomores, those younger players who would be getting that experience,” Ross said. “I remember my younger years were just a great experience for me.”
“This is definitely an important part of the season to learn the plays and get the cardio,” Oakland said. “Especially when the other teams are able to compete. They will be in better shape when we are back.”
Boise High School hasn’t had tryouts yet. Just 12 miles away, Cole Valley Christian’s girls basketball team is 6-1 and in first place in the 2A Western Idaho Conference. The Chargers started their season on Nov. 17.
“It feels a little unfair,” Ross said.