The AHSAA Central Board of Control approved a record 11 legislative proposals Thursday during its 2020 Spring Legislative Council meeting which was held via teleconferencing for the first time in AHSAA history. All legislative proposals that passed will go into effect June 1.
“I laud our member schools, especially the members of the AHSAA central board and legislative council for their hard work and leadership,” AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said in a release. “I especially want to thank the members of the AHSAA Transfer Committee under the leadership of chairperson Terry Curtis, District 1 board member, whose painstaking work has resulted in providing some excellent proposals that will help guide the AHSAA as it moves forward in our changing society.”
Among the proposals was an amendment to Rule III Section 17 to allow fall sports the option of having a spring evaluation period or starting official practice a week early. Due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down all of the spring periods for 2020, fall coaches are looking forward to having an extra week to prepare for the upcoming season.
“With spring not being an option, that’s going to be big for everybody,” ECHS football coach Jordan Cantrell said. “You have lost a lot of time with your guys and installing what you want to get installed. This gives us the opportunity to catch up for some of the lost time.”
Tallassee football coach Mike Battles said this proposal has been brought up in the past but he thinks missing out on spring practice this year may have pushed the board over the edge. The proposal passed with a 22-10 vote, getting just enough votes to be ratified.
Battles said there are certainly other reasons outside of the coronavirus to choose the extra week of fall practice rather than the 10 days in the spring.
“I’ve talked about it with several other coaches,” Battles said. “I think this is a great proposal and I think it has been needed. A lot of smaller schools have two- or three-sport athletes and that spring training usually falls around playoff time for spring sports. If they are all playing baseball, they don’t get to go through spring and they don’t get to do football.”
Battles said he would prefer to always have a spring evaluation period but having another option is a good thing moving forward.
For smaller schools, a spring period could make more sense especially when a spring sports team is making a deep run in the postseason. Cantrell said he has already pushed back the Panthers’ spring workouts in his two years with Elmore County so having the option to move to fall could become useful.
“Every coach will have to weigh his options on that with how many are crossing over to your sports,” Cantrell said. “We had a number of guys in track, soccer and baseball so depending on how deep they went, that’s something we will have to take into account. We have always made adjustments to our spring to make that work. Everybody is going to have a different situation and it could change year to year for us too.”
Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said it will make a huge difference to have that extra week of practice this year but he doesn’t see his program taking that option under normal circumstances in the future.
“I don’t really think so,” Perry said. “I haven’t discussed it in length with our coaching staff but spring is such a critical evaluation period. You can’t get a true evaluation of a football player unless he’s competing in a full practice so without spring, you go through all of summer with a lot of question marks.”