Panthers News · MHSAA releases Fall Sport Guidelines


Dear West Ottawa Community

The MHSAA Representative Council met this morning to discuss fall sports.  Here is a summary of the action taken.

  • Approved a “phased-in” approach to fall athletics.
  • Eliminated scrimmages in all fall sports; the only occasions where students from different schools would be together is for official games, matches, meets and competitions.
  • Finalized the fall sports guidance documents for the safe return to activity.  This guidance includes general information along with sport-specific directives for students, coaches, staff, officials and media members.  Spectator guidance will be added once those number of individual limits are finalized by the Governor’s office.  These documents are posted at mhsaa.com on each sport page and comply with all Executive Orders from Governor Whitmer.
  • New competition limits in all fall sports were approved to limit the number of teams and individuals at any one competition site.  The concept is fall competition will take place as locally as possible with no large-scale events, invitationals or tournaments.  See the fall sport-specific guidance documents for these limits.
  • Allowed all low-risk sports to begin practice and competition as scheduled on August 12.  This includes golf, tennis, cross country and swimming.  Swimming can begin indoor practice and competition once pools are opened  with capacity limitations being followed.
  • Allowed moderate-risk sports of soccer and volleyball (pending the opening of school gyms) to begin practice as scheduled on August 12 but to delay competition.  Decisions on competition timelines (to start or to delay further) would be made on or by August 20.
  • Delayed the start of football practice with full player pads and equipment until Monday, August 17.  The week of August 10 shall only include practice sessions that consist of conditioning, physical training and skill work but without player equipment other than helmets.  This week of acclimatization (August 10-16) is similar to the allowed summer activities with helmets, only, that have been ongoing since June.  Decisions on competition timelines (to start or to delay further) would be made on or by August 20.

The MHSAA will continue to be nimble and flexible in these uncertain times.  The Council will be meeting regularly and we will continue to provide updates and possible modifications based on the most current information, directives from state government and health department officials and member school feedback.

Other things to consider:

  • All students who competed at West Ottawa last school year with a valid physical will not be required to obtain a new physical for the 2020 School Year. You will need to complete the Health Questionnaire on Final Forms. Go to https://westottawa-mi.finalforms.com/ to complete this form and check on your student athletes status.
  • I would highly encourage each student athlete to purchase a Water Bottle and make sure it is labeled. We will have limits placed on how we can distribute water throughout practices and competitions and each athlete will need a seperate bottle that is clearly labeled. In addition a mask that can be washed would be a good idea as masks will be required at various times throughout the course of competition.
  • There will be limitations placed on how many spectators we will be permitted to have at each event. We are working on streaming options to help make sure all family members can watch their athletes compete. More information on this will come in the coming weeks.
  • Ticketing will be moving to a digital format for the upcoming year. It was our intention to slowly roll this out but the MHSAA is asking that all tickets are done in this matter to limit exposure as fans enter our facilities. We are working on getting this up and running and it will be all done through wopanthers.com. More information on this as we move forward.
As always the health and well being of our Athletes, Coaches, and Fans will guide our decision making process. While sports this Fall will not look as they normally do I am hopeful that the return to competition will bring some normalcy back to the lives of our student athletes. Expect to see more communication in the coming weeks. GO WO!

Bill Kennedy

Athletic Director
West Ottawa High School