AISA schools can return to athletics on June 1

Macon East Academy coach Glynn Lott talks to his players after a July, 2019 practice. Lott said the Knights will return to conditioning drills on June 1 with plans to remain outdoors.

Alabama Independent School Association officials have announced plans to allow high school teams to resume on-campus conditioning drills beginning June 1.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association announced tentative plans earlier in the week to resume on June 8.

Gov. Kay Ivey and the state Department of Public Health are expected to issue updated health guidelines on Friday, which should provide updated guidelines.

“They can resume conditioning activities on June 1,” AISA executive director Michael McLendon said. “We’re fine-tuning a guidelines document to assist them in developing their own policies that are in accordance with the CDC, the Alabama Department of Public Health and all other safety guidelines.”

Mandatory summer practices are prohibited but weightlifting, conditioning, individual skill development and workouts will be left to the discretion of the local schools in compliance with Department of Education and Department of Public Health guidelines. Summer competition such as seven-on-seven camps for football and tournaments for basketball are canceled for AHSAA schools but there is some hope among AISA officials that they may be held later this summer among their schools.

“We postponed indefinitely the team-type activities – team camps, seven-on-seven, play dates and those sorts of activities,” McLendon said. “They’re not officially canceled but they’re postponed until we have more guidance.

“Even if we get to the point where we can do that, it’ll be, obviously, a small group because our schools typically compete against public schools and out-of-state schools. There’s a broader competition pool for seven-on-seven during the summer, typically.”

McLendon and AISA athletic director Roddie Beck sent out guidelines to all schools, urging them to formulate a plan in writing before resuming athletic activities.

“We’re going to sit down on Monday and come up with a written plan on what we’re going to do,” Macon East Academy football coach Glynn Lott said. “We’ve talked about it, but we haven’t written down anything. We’ll probably go outside and do most of our stuff out there. Being able to go in the weight room will be tough.”

Generally by this time, coaches have mapped out a summer plan that features several trips to universities and larger schools to compete in seven-on-seven drills, but the stoppage of play on March 13 by the coronavirus pandemic has left many football coaches uncertain of their next move.

“I’ve always had things planned out, a summer calendar plan,” Autauga Academy coach Bobby Carr said. “I haven’t even made it out because I’m waiting on the go-ahead. Obviously, it disrupts us all but we’re all in the same boat. The good thing is, most of my guys are working on their own. I think we’ll go back to work on June 8, but I don’t have it planned out yet.”

The opening of football practice for AISA schools has not changed from its originally scheduled date of July 27.

“Right now, we’re staying the course and not making any plans to shift the season,” McLendon said.

AISA coaches gather in April after classifications have been announced and plan schedules in all sports other than football. Because of the pandemic, that gathering was changed to the annual coaches’ convention in late May, then shifted again to mid-June when the convention was canceled.

Another switch made by the organization is the cancelation of the annual cheerleader clinic on June 24-27 in Troy.

“It’s the first time it’s been canceled,” McLendon said. “It’s a huge event. You’re talking about 500 student-athletes at one event, thousands of people coming to watch them compete, along with all-star tryouts for seniors. We pivoted from a group cheer camp to schools hosting home camps. Assuming that social distancing restrictions are lifted later in the summer, then they would have those camps and we’ll have a competition in the fall at some point. At that competition, we would also do all-star tryouts.”