Volleyball and football are back

Deb Moldaschel
(Left) St. Mary's Knights practiced last week, when only no contact practice was allowed, and before the decision to start a season was announced. On his unique practice equipment, Coach Brent Kucera said, "Since we can't do physical contact, we are using the recycling carts for our scout defense -- so we can start learning our blocking schemes. It works pretty darn good, actually." (Right) Sydney Geiger's Indians were also on the court, practicing according to guidelines provided before the new regular volleyball season was announced.

Sleepy Eye’s football and volleyball coaches, along with their players, got the announcement they were hoping for on Monday, when the Minnesota State High School League changed course from playing the sports in early spring to instead start a shorter season next week. Both sports can switch from the limited practice they were allowed and start regular practice sessions on Monday, Sept. 28.

Activity Directors from both schools indicated approval of the new plan to play this fall.

“We are glad that the seasons will be opening up, even if we cannot have fans for indoor volleyball and only 250 outdoors for football,” said Bruce Woitas, St. Mary’s AD. “We will see what happens.”

Cory Haala, AD and head football coach at Sleepy Eye High School said he prefers playing these sports this fall over early spring.

“It’s likely 250 total fans at outdoor games will be allowed,” said Haala, agreeing with Woitas, “and we will be streaming our home games — many opponents will also have some sort of streaming capability. It is doubtful we’ll have concessions and likely slightly more tickets will be available for home teams compared to the road teams.”

For volleyball, Haala also thought no fans will be allowed, with only essential workers in the gym. He said they will stream home events and expects many opponents will do the same for away events.

SEHS head volleyball coach Sydney Geiger said, “The girls, and coaches, are definitely excited to be back in the gym. The girls worked hard all last week and after hearing the news Monday, it made them even more excited to be there — knowing that a season is now in the near future! We will continue to work hard and adjust to whatever the guidelines are to have a season.”

Jen Walter, St. Mary’s had volleyball coach, had the same reaction for her team. “We are all very excited to have a fall season of volleyball. The girls have been lifting, conditioning, and playing a lot of volleyball since June,” she said. “We are eager to be able to compete however that may look.”

Brent Kucera, St. Mary’s head football coach, said his boys are excited to be back together and playing football.

“We have been working towards a game in early October since last week when we knew they would look at the decision, so we will be prepared to play,” said Kucera. “The decision is made and we are grateful that we get to play football. I am very happy that we get to play this fall as playing in the spring would have had some interesting challenges. However, I will have to invest in some warmer clothes since we will be playing close to Thanksgiving!”

Volleyball will have an 11 week season with 14 games; football will play a six game schedule — both sports’ games will begin the week of Oct. 5. MSHSL said a two-week post season will follow the regular season for both sports.

SEHS Varsity Volleyball: Oct. 8 home vs. MVL; Oct. 10 home vs. Wabasso (late morning); Oct. 13 home vs. CM; Oct. 15 at Springfield; Oct. 20 at GFW; Oct. 22 home vs. NUC; Oct. 27 at SESM; Oct. 29 home vs. BLHS; Nov. 2 BYE; Nov. 5 at Wabasso; Nov. 10 at MVL; Nov. 12 at CM; Nov. 17 home vs. Springfield; Nov. 19 host GFW; Nov. 24 at NUC

SESM Varsity Volleyball: 10/8 at Springfield; 10/12 home vs. Wabasso; 10/13 at NUC; 10/20 at MVL; 10/22 home vs. GFW; 10/27 home vs. SEPS; 10/29 at Cedar Mt.; 11/2 at BLHS; 11/10 home vs. Springfield; 11/12 home vs. NUC; 11/17 at Wabasso; 11/19 home vs. MVL; 11/23 home vs. BLHS; 11/24 at GFW;

Volleyball Playoffs TBD after season

SEHS Varsity Football: Oct. 9 home vs. MCC; Oct. 16 home vs. NUC; Oct. 23 at TMB; Oct. 30 home vs. Wabasso; Nov. 6 at Adrian-Ellsworth; Nov. 13 at MVL

SESM Varsity Football: Oct. 9 home vs. Hills Beaver Creek; Oct. 16 at RCW; Oct. 23 home vs. Edgerton; Oct. 30 at WWG; Nov. 6 at Mt. Lake; Nov. 13 home vs. BLHS

Nov. 20 and 27 some sort of playoff format TBD

From the Sept. 21 MSHSL Special Board of Directors Meeting


The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors today approved a reconsideration placement of fall activities, a decision that brings football and volleyball back to the fall season.

The plan, which fits within COVID-19 guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health, will have an approved football season beginning on Sept. 28 with the first of six regular season games scheduled for the week of Oct. 5. Since Sept. 14, member schools have had the option of participating in fall training sessions. In the framework that was adopted by the Board of Directors, a planned two-week football postseason will begin the week of Nov. 16.

Volleyball will begin an 11-week season on Sept. 28 and member schools may play their first matches on Oct. 8. In the framework that was approved by the board, two weeks of postseason play would begin the week of Nov. 30. Like football, member schools have had the option of participating in voluntary training sessions since Sept. 14.

“The Minnesota State High School League continues to work to provide educational opportunities for our student athletes in the safest manner possible for all involved,” said Board of Directors President Blaine Novak of New York Mills. “Coming into the meeting, we knew that every decision we make affects every other decision for the rest of the calendar year. Today’s decision, based on what we currently know and with the unknowns of what spring will bring, is based on the belief that playing now provides us the best opportunity to play a football and volleyball season.”

In a vote on Aug. 4, the board approved postponing football and volleyball until a spring season. But on Wednesday, Sept. 16, a day after a lengthy board workshop, Novak called for a special meeting of the Board of Directors to give reconsideration of returning the two activities to their traditional fall seasons. During the workshop, MDH shared updated information on COVID-19 analytics, spread and prevention. Board members also engaged in discussion with the Return to Participation Task Force, a group formed in late July to explore participation models and options for member schools and their participants during the COVID era.

At today’s meeting, the Board of Directors also discussed the League’s activities calendar for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, including information from League Staff on postseason options for the fall season. Approving the complete calendar for the remainder of the school year will be an Action Item at the Board of Directors’ next regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 1.