North Dakota winter sports teams respond to high school sports resuming Nov. 30
After Governor Doug Burgum announced last week that winter sports would be on hold until at least December 14th due to North Dakota’s Covid-19 plan, he revised that statement last Wednesday night. The new statement says that winter sports practices and extracurricular activities can resume on November 30th, with extra precautions.
Most girl's hockey teams in North Dakota already held tryouts before the winter sports season was suspended, while wrestling was a week into its year. No matter the sport, coaches and players can agree it's about taking it one day at a time.
“I really hope these kids just get a chance to compete in February. Whatever we got to do to get through to that, I think everybody is willing to do,” said Lisbon Head Wrestling Coach, Rich Lacina.
No matter the sport and no matter the level, North Dakota high school coaches can agree the past two weeks have felt like an emotional rollercoaster.
“Minnesota, right across the river. At first we thought that they were going to get to play and we weren’t going to play and now it’s kind of reversed,” said Grand Forks Knightriders Head Coach Alex Hedlund.
It started with having all high school sports suspended*until December 14th as part of Governor Burgum’s Covid-19 plan. Wednesday night though was when teams received an unexpected change that gave winter sports a new sign of hope.
“This time it’s back on top of the rollercoaster and we get to skate on November 30th. Yes, games can’t happen until December 14th, but that’s okay we will be at the rink and we’ll be together,” said Hedlund.
For the Grand Forks Knightriders, varsity rosters were announced right before practices were suspended.
“It was barely five-six hours after we told these kids ‘congratulations you have a spot’, to hang on for a month, we'll see you soon,” said Hedlund.
Now Hedlund is taking a new approach for coaching in her seventh season.
“There’s really cool online websites that you can draw up power plays or whatever you need to do. The girls are able to watch through Google Meet which is very similar to Zoom. Did I maybe sound nervous to them a couple times, sure, but I was trying to be as optimistic as I could be,” said Hedlund.
Lisbon is the two-time defending Class B state wrestling champions in North Dakota. Instead of working towards going for the three-peat though, right now the focus is having any meets at all.
“It was almost a little bit like Christmas for us, we just thought thank goodness. We were real nervous about losing the sport and we don’t want that. We will do whatever it takes to be safe so the kids can compete,” said Lacina.
This is usually the busy part of the season for Rich Lacina’s squad, weekends filled with tournaments and dual meets, now the concern raises that some of his wrestlers may not even have a season.
“We try to have the junior high season done by Christmas so that they can still go to basketball. That way they can wrestle for half the season and then play basketball the second half. Coming back December 15th, were pretty short on time and we’re kind of scared trying to get those kids match time now. In the past for our guys, we look at around 40 matches, we have the tournaments, and 18 duals. This year it might just be eight or nine duals and they might end up with maybe 20 matches, that’s if things go great and we can go all the way through the state tournament,” said Lacina.
No matter what the winter sports season may look like in North Dakota, as long as teams can be together with a target date in mind, that means more than what any scoreboard may read.
“I always thought that when November came our season was going to start just like normal, because why wouldn't you? So it just lets us have a little different view on life,” said Hedlund.
“Every match now, everything now is for everybody. It might be your last one for the year. So we got to make the most of each and every one of them,” said Lacina.
The earliest that Minnesota will be able to resume winter sports is Saturday, December 19th.