High school athletes across Iowa will be returning to the baseball and softball diamonds next month, following a two-month suspension of activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Kim Reynolds cleared the way for teams to compete this summer when she announced Wednesday that schools could resume school-sponsored activities starting June 1. The Iowa High School Athletic Association's Board of Control and the Board of Directors of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union each held meetings after the governor's announcement. Both groups voted to approve resuming the 2020 summer seasons under Iowa Department of Education guidelines.
According to a press release issued jointly by the organizations, baseball and softball teams can begin practicing on June 1. Competition can start as early as June 15, and fans WILL BE permitted at games.
“The guidelines laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said in the press release. “We are grateful for their leadership and support. We know the games will have different circumstances and that we will all have to work together to keep everyone safe, but we are confident that we are up to this challenge.”
“We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe," IHSAA Executive Tom Keating said. "This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”
More information on what public health measures teams must follow is expected to be released Thursday, when Iowa Department of Education Director and IHSAA Board of Control member Dr. Ann Lebo joins Gov. Reynolds at her daily press briefing. The IHSAA and IGHSAU plan to issue further sport-specific guidance and FAQ (frequently asked questions) lists early next week.
According to the press release, both organizations currently plan to conduct their state tournaments at their previously announced venues. Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge will host the state softball tournament, while the state baseball tournament will be played at Principal Park in Des Moines.
The baseball and softball games this summer will be the first high school athletic events since March 13, when boys state basketball tournament championship games were played at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines with less than 100 fans being allowed in the venue. Spring sports seasons never began and were ultimately canceled on April 17, following the cancellation of in-person K-12 schooling for Iowa’s 2019-20 academic year.
Baseball and softball teams, originally, were supposed to begin practice on May 4.
Per guidance from the Iowa Department of Education, coach-athlete contact for all in-person, out-of-season sports is suspended until July 1.