By Ray Hamill — There are still some logistics to hammer out when it comes to the upcoming high school sports calendar, but the H-DNL appears to have made the best decision possible in what are unique circumstances up here compared to much of the state.
On Wednesday, the school principals voted almost unanimously to implement a three-season sports calendar from December to June, moving away from the state-wide calendar of two seasons the California Interscholastic federation and North Coast Section voted to approve last month.
The H-DNL wanted to ensure the student athletes here would not have to sacrifice any of their chosen sports in what would otherwise have been a busy spring, with nine sports competing simultaneously.
The fact it was a 10-1 vote shows how overwhelming that concern was for a league that features mostly small schools, all of which rely heavily on multi-sport athletes.
The planned H-DNL calendar is as follows …
Season one — Basketball and cross country (December to February)
Season two — Football, volleyball and soccer (February to April)
Season three — Baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track and field (April to June)
Wrestling and swimming will follow the CIF/NCS calendar and run from March to June.
The clear advantages with this model are that less athletes will have to sacrifice a sport, while the spring sports, along with wrestling and swimming, all remain in contention for NCS and state playoffs and won’t miss out for a second straight year.
Basketball, for now, along with football, cross country, volleyball and soccer all will miss out on the postseason, a sacrifice that was deemed necessary by the majority of the principals, although that will hurt many of those programs and some remain unhappy with the situation.
The big question yet to be answered is just how much these three seasons will overlap, with the league set to address the issue next month.
League commissioner Jack Lakin said they will look to limit the overlap, but without any it would result in eight-week seasons, which are very short for most sports and could be especially problematic for the outdoor sports if we have a wet spring next year.
There needs to be some overlap. There is every other year.
A second big question is whether basketball — one of the most at-risk sports — will even be ready to go as early as December, and there remains a strong sense it could be pushed back, probably to season three.
That would mean many athletes would still have the same dilemma as before, although at least soccer would be removed from the equation.
For now, however, the hope is basketball will be given the all-clear to begin competition four months from now in mid-December.
Another precaution the league opted for this week was voting to prohibit travel out of the area for most sports, with the exception of wrestling and swimming, and any postseason competition for spring sports.
Let’s be honest, who knows if this will still be necessary eight or nine months from now, but if not they can always change their minds.
The bottom line is everything is still dependent on getting the necessary clearance from state and local health officials, and we can only hope that will be the case by mid-December.
The H-DNL calendar also must be approved by the NCS at a meeting in early October.