By Sports editor Brian Hoffman
The Virginia High School League Executive Committee meeting voted unanimously (33-0-0) on Thursday, September 17, to adopt the “Championships + 1” schedule for the FY 2021 Athletic and Academic Activities season.
The “Championships + 1” plan consist of three seasons, beginning in December with basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swimming and diving and wrestling. That will begin December 7 with the first contests on December 21, and ending February 20.
The season for fall sports, football, volleyball, golf, cross country, competition cheerleading and field hockey, will begin with practices on February 4 and games on March 1. It’s scheduled to conclude on May 1.
Season three, for spring sports, will begin with April 12 practices and games from April 26 to June 26. That will consist of baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and track & field.
“We have received invaluable input from our school communities, parents, and students who say the physical and mental health benefits of getting our students back to a level of participation is extremely important,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “The Championships + 1 schedule will provide sports in all three seasons.
“The VHSL Executive Committee acknowledges that no plan is perfect. We are in unprecedented times in which we have been forced to create a temporary new normal. We understand this plan, or any plan, will not meet the expectations for those wanting a normal fall, winter, and spring sports season. This plan, however, will allow student-athletes and academic activity participants the opportunity of having a season and playing for a state championship.”
After meeting with coaches, athletic directors, principals and superintendent representatives from the respective regions, the VHSL staff has drafted a plan for the FY 2021 Athletic and Academic Activities. Among the decisions are the following.
–Sideline Cheer has been moved from Season 2 to Season 1 to accommodate the beginning of the yearly calendar. These teams serve as an auxiliary group for any sport team sponsored by a member school.
–Each sport will play 60% of the normal contests allowed.
–For the 2020-21 school year no district may intentionally disadvantage a member school relative to scheduling. A school may request of its district to fill their schedule with non-district opponents. All District decisions relative to scheduling require the unanimous approval of the district. Intentional violations of the scheduling rule will result in the offending district schools being ineligible for post-season participation.
–Football will have 7 dates to play 6 games.
–Any game not played due to COVID-19 issues will be treated as a game “not played” versus a forfeit.
–Dead Periods will be: Season 1: 12/07 – 12/19, Season 2: 02/04 – 02/20, Season 3: 04/12 – 04/24.
Every sport will hold a state championship. Rules for championships are as follows:
–VHSL Championship dates for Indoor Track and Swim & Dive are tentative due to venue availability.
–The calendar allows for one week of region tournaments and one week for a state tournament-semi-finals and finals.
–Teams not participating in region tournaments will be allowed to schedule one additional game/contest that must be completed by the region deadline
–Each region will advance one team to the state tournament in all sports. Team state championships will be hosted by the team at the top of the bracket if the venue meets VHSL State Tournament Site Requirements, otherwise the game will be hosted in a facility in the geographic area that meets the requirements.
–State Championships will be one day events when possible to eliminate team/school expense, overnight accommodations, meet COVID safety requirements for indoor facilities
–Wrestling will be 8- person brackets and 1-day state tournaments.
–Cross Country will advance to state competition based on region finish –2 teams and top 3 individuals.
–Indoor Track will qualify the top 3 region finishers in each event (Standards will not be used for the 2020-2021 state meet).
–Outdoor Track will qualify the top 4 region finishers in each event (Standards will not be used for the 2020-2021 state meet).
–Swimming & Diving will qualify the top 4 region finishers in each event (Standards will not be used for the 2020-2021 state meet).
–Golf(boys) will qualify 1 team and 3 individuals per region.
–Golf(girls) will qualify through zone qualifiers. Automatic qualifiers are girls who participate on their boys’ team and finish in the top 8 at the boys golf state championships.
–Gymnastics will be one team per region and top 3 individuals per region for each event (Qualifying standards will not be used for the 2020-2021 state meet).
These guidelines are subject to change according to how the state is affected by the pandemic.