by Cassie Mattia

Loveland, OhioStudent-athletes all across Ohio jumped for joy Tuesday when Governor Mike DeWine announced that he will be signing a new Ohio Department of Health order. This order will permit the Fall contact sports of Field Hockey, Soccer, and Football, to move forward with competition against other schools.

Although the Governor confirmed his support for the new health order in a press conference on Tuesday he also said he wanted to ensure that Ohio’s coaches continued to inspire their student-athletes to follow safety precautions. DeWine stated that he hopes that by allowing high school athletes to have a season that will then inspire them to be as careful as they can be.

“I hope that our coaches will use this an opportunity to focus on helping these young people understand what really is at stake,” Dewine said, “Coaches, you, in a normal year, inspire, you mentor, you instruct, you instill discipline and self-discipline in your student-athletes. For all of that, we are very grateful for what you do. You make a lot of sacrifices, work long hours and you inspire our kids. We thank you very much for that. But this year, it’s going to take more. It’s going to be inspiring them in regards to the goal of keeping COVID out of their team,” DeWine added.

Field hockey, Soccer, and Football will now be joining the OHSAA’s previously approved Fall sports, which were Girls and Boys Golf, Girls Tennis, Girls Volleyball, and Girls and Boys Cross Country.

With the majority of high schools in Ohio desperately wanting to play sports this Fall, the OHSAA has been working with the Governor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health to create a new health order that contains modifications from the previous health orders released. With the new Health Director’s Order comes two separate mandates and recommended best practices documents for schools to follow for competitions. If practices aren’t followed the OHSAA could issue consequences for the violation of these requirements as prescribed in Bylaw 11, Penalties. The new health order will still include symptom assessments, mandated facial coverings, enforcement of social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing, and what to do when faced with confirmed COVID-19 cases or exposure to the virus. The finalized health order will be sent to schools this week.

Bob Goldring, the OHSAA’s Interim Executive Director, also voiced his support of contact sports being allowed to compete in Ohio.

“The OHSAA is moving forward because we want kids to have an opportunity to participate, and the Governor’s Office is providing that opportunity and a chance,” Goldring explained, “So for that, we are most appreciative. It’s important to remember that our student-athletes have been practicing and training with others for weeks and even months, and it has gone well. So, we believe they deserve the chance to move forward, and that the high school space is also different than the collegiate space.”

The OHSAA staff has also been consistently working hard to create sport-specific modifications and recommendations for schools when conducting interscholastic competition.  If you would like to read over the updated sports modifications and safety precautions you can click on the following link:https://ohsaa.org/Home/OHSAA-COVID-19-Correspondence.

OHSAA’s Goldring, like Governor DeWine, when speaking on Tuesday also emphasized the importance of student-athletes, coaches, and school administrators being the absolute best advocates for safety.

“COVID-19 certainly has created a risk factor, and that is something on which each family has to decide for their student, and each local school district has to make decisions on moving forward based on all the information they have been presented,” Goldring continued. “But we also believe our student-athletes, coaches and school administrators – in education-based programs – are suited to be the best advocates for safety, strongly promoting and following mandates and recommendations to wear facial coverings, stay socially distanced and so forth. Our coaches, especially, are role models to so many of our student-athletes. So hopefully our student-athletes will follow their lead and guidance, especially when they talk to students about what to consider away from school.”

If you would like to look over the full text from Tuesday’s updated memo sent to the OHSAA’s member schools visit the following link: https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/BulletinBoard/20200818AdministratorUpdate.pdf

OHSAA’s Fall Sports Seasons are Scheduled to Begin on the Following Dates:

   Friday, Aug. 21 – Soccer and Field Hockey

   Monday, Aug. 24 – Volleyball, Cross Country, and Football

   Both Golf and Girls Tennis Seasons have already begun.

Have more questions about the new sports health orders and mandates? The Governor’s Office, the Ohio Department of Health, the National Federation of State High School Associations, colleagues at other state high school athletics/activities associations, members of the OHSAA’s Joint Advisory Committee on Sports Medicine, and members of the Governor’s Sports League Advisory Group created a series of questions and answers for those wanting to learn more! Click on the following link to read:https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/Sports/2020/OHSAAReturnToPlayQA.pdf.

For the latest updates in the world of sports be sure to tune into Sports 411 With ME, Cassie Mattia!

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Cassie Mattia is a Co-Owner of Loveland Magazine. She is the Associate Editor and Director of Marketing.