FOLEY – High school athletes in Foley, and around Minnesota, are making new fall plans.

In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Minnesota State High School League last week announced volleyball and football seasons will be held from mid-March through Mid-May. Traditional fall sports cross county, tennis and swimming and diving, and soccer will begin in August as usual. All sports will have a limited number of competitions and teams participating in any single event.

Dean Dahman, Athletic Director for Foley Schools says, while the news took student athletes by surprise, they’ve taken it in stride and kept their focus.

“They were shocked, at first,” he said. “They’ve been practicing their skills all summer and were pretty much ready to go. I know we have a handful of volleyball players going out for tennis or swimming. If they choose not to go out for another sport, they’ll still have the opportunity to practice with their coaches.”

Dahman says, with football and volleyball moving to March, traditional spring sports like baseball will begin in May and will be played in early July. The changes have created a complex logistical puzzle, Dahman says.

“We’ve had to revamp all the schedules,” he said. “We’ve had to redo cross country, swim and tennis schedules within the conference, and also look at scheduling our spring sports, which are now volleyball and football. We have to look at their practice schedules and figure out when, where and how they’re going to do it. Buses – are we going to need to bring more than one bus to a swim meet? We’re sort of starting from scratch. All the plans were pretty much thrown up in the air.”

Even though potential COVID-19 outbreaks have the potential to create additional disruptions and changes this school year, Dahman says the student athletes have shown how resilient they are.

“They adapt,” he said. “They’ve found things to do. Once June rolled around, we were full bore with certain things – camps, basketball, volleyball and cross country team was running. So, they’re playing and doing what they need to do. Now we’ve gotten thrown kind of another curve ball with football and volleyball, but at least they didn’t wipe out their season. At least they still have a chance, pending the health of our county and our state. We’ll focus on what we can control and we’ll move forward.”

Meanwhile, one thing is certain for Foley: the school’s new Human Performance Lab and wrestling practice space will be ready to welcome students, COVID-19-willing. The district broke ground on the new athletic training and education facilities last year.

“We’re to the point of filling (the lab) up,” he said. “The pitching mound is in, the cameras are in. The wrestling mats are here, but we’re waiting to see about what we need to do with wiring for the scoreboards and sound system before we lay them, since the (wiring) will go under the mats. The workers are done; now it’s just us doing the finishing touches.”

In addition to classes and sports training, the Human Performance Lab will also be open to the public; the facility includes a separate entrance and specific hours for community members. To learn more about the project, check out our story from last year.