North Star Athletic Association to play split volleyball season between fall and spring
MADISON, S.D. — The North Star Athletic Association will have a split season volleyball schedule, the NAIA league announced Thursday, Sept. 3, while also moving its conference tournament from the fall to early April.
The NSAA had planned to play all its volleyball conference matches along with its conference tournament during the fall season. However, that plan changed after the NAIA recently decided that athletes would be charged with a year of eligibility in any sport if they participated in more than 50% of the maximum allowed contests.
The split schedule will give conference schools the option to play less than 50% of their volleyball dates during the fall in case a spring volleyball season doesn’t happen due to the COVD-19 pandemic. That would give athletes the opportunity to not use a year of eligibility if the spring season is disrupted.
If the NSAA played more than 50% of the maximum allowed volleyball dates in the fall, that would count as a year of eligibility for volleyball players, even if the spring season and national tournament were canceled.
“We came to the decision in order to leave some flexibility for coaches, for nationally competitive teams and for the student-athletes,” Valley City State athletic director Jill DeVries said. “The decision wasn’t taken lightly.”
The NAIA national championship volleyball tournament is scheduled for April 27-May 1. The NSAA tournament has been moved to early April. The conference will play seven league dates during the fall and seven more in the spring.
“At that point, it just didn’t make sense to try to push it and have some of those kids lose that year if they didn’t get a full season,” said Mayville State head coach Lindsey Johnson, entering her 13th season at the helm. “It’s super strange to be scheduling at this point of the year.”
DeVries said the Vikings plan to schedule 13 dates in the fall to stay below that 50% threshold for volleyball. Johnson said the Comets also want to set 13 dates on their fall schedule.
“It’s been so fluid,” DeVries said. “I’m not sure that we’ll have a finalized (fall) schedule until we either reach the 13 (dates) or COVID prevents us from playing at all. … It’s going to be really flexible.”
Both Valley City State and Mayville State are scheduled to play Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6, playing three nonconference matches over those two dates.
“I think if anything it’s taught the kids to kind of go with the flow. It’s hard,” Johnson said. “I think the one thing that keeps us pushing forward is the idea that we are going to play.”
The NSAA has eight members spread across five different states.
“Everything is so different (for COVID-19) based on what state you’re in, so having a conference spread across five states makes it even more complicated,” Johnson said.
“In athletics you’re always trying to pivot and trying to figure out new ways to do things,” DeVries added.