County ADs adapt to Code Red newsNovember 5, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Sports will carry on for Dubois County schools after the Indiana State Department of Health classified the county as “Code Red” on Wednesday following an uptick of COVID-19 cases.
However, this designation is also impacting local teams and athletic events. Paoli’s girls basketball team was scheduled to play Northeast Dubois on Thursday, and Southridge on Saturday. Both of those games have been postponed, however, in the wake of Dubois County being “Code Red.”
The athletic directors in the county are adjusting accordingly to the news — tweaking their attendance plans as winter sports begin to take shape.
“We’ve marked off our main gymnasium, and we’re approved right now for 1,200 fans within our main gym,” Jasper’s Brian Lewis said. “But those plans are improved on a weekly basis.”
Lewis said the current number for swimming is 125, which is also on a weekly basis.
“Those seats are marked off in pairs,” he said. “If we have more than three teams involved, we will not be having fans. If we are three teams or less, we will be able to give limited tickets to those schools.”
Southridge’s Scott Buening, who is also the football coach, said on Thursday that his only attendance plan currently approved is the one for Friday’s sectional championship football game against Salem.
“We are allowed 600 spectators in our home bleachers, 600 spectators in our visitor bleachers,” Buening said. “And then we’ve got 200 standing room only and then 100 students.”
Buening told the Herald that the standing room only will be outside the track fence — which allows for a lot of room and area for social distancing. Masks are required at the game.
Northeast Dubois athletic director Terry Friedman, also the Jeeps boys basketball coach, did not have an updated winter sports attendance plan in place when he spoke to the Herald on Thursday, but with no home athletic events scheduled until Dec. 3, the school still has time. Friedman said a plan will be in place by early next week.
Friedman talked about Northeast Dubois being “more diligent” at its winter athletic events.
“In terms of being more diligent I think means more restriction on attendance,” Friedman said. “Without restricted attendance, then it’s really difficult for any school corporation or any organization, for that fact, to be more diligent.”
Forest Park opened its girls basketball season Thursday at home against Tell City, but athletic director Doug Louden didn’t have to make any changes to his attendance plan.
“For girls basketball, we got approved for 300 in attendance,” Louden said Thursday afternoon. “I have spent the last several days marking with tape, sections they can sit in and then putting signs up where they can’t and Xs where they can’t, and all that good stuff. So, I think we’re ready.”
Louden echoed the sentiment of the other athletic directors that the attendance plan will be on a week-by-week basis. This plan for winter sports could be different, however, than the fall sports one. Louden imagines that Forest Park’s football games might’ve had larger attendance than the boys basketball games will.
“I have no idea how I’m going to handle boys basketball,” he said. “I realize we’re going to have a lot of people that won’t be able to come to the games. We’re looking into streaming the games so that everybody will still be able to watch. Thank goodness we have until December 12th to figure that out.”
Lewis said Jasper will continue moving forward its plan, and no athletic contests have been cancelled. Buening and Friedman aren’t looking too far ahead, either, for what the near future holds.
“We’re just going to control the things we can control — what we’re in control of,” Buening said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate, evolve and talk to people who are experts in these areas. And we’re just keep doing what’s right by our kids, our school and our community.”
“We have to be able to evaluate each day, move forward, try to keep people as safe as we can, and also remember that things can change on us,” Friedman said. “But whatever plans we put in place have to be flexible enough that we can turn and move as needed.”
Louden envisions Forest Park winter sports will be a lot like the fall sports season. He knows athletes will be out quarantined due to close contact, but he hopes to the winter sports season, including the tournaments, can be completed.
“I feel for these kids — what our seniors went through last spring and we’ve been fortunate for the most part this past fall,” Louden said. “We had some kids in quarantine, obviously, but all teams made it through the tournament and finished their season, which was great. And we’re hoping for the same thing for this winter. We’re excited that we’re able to get going tonight, and we hope to continue. But it will be touch and go.”
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