Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Chris Chun opened a videoconference with representatives of the state’s five leagues earlier this week by sharing his goal for the 2020-21 school year: maintaining all of our sports, with a state championship for each of them.
It was a welcome yet admittedly perfect-world objective, Hawaii Prep athletic director Stephen Perry said, and one that will take flexibility and “outside-the-box” thinking to achieve during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eyeing the end of the month as a target date to tentatively set the upcoming sports calendar, there are far more questions than answers.
“Everything is on the table, and I don’t know if we can make any decisions right now,” said Perry, who represented the BIIF along with Lyle Crozier, the league’s executive director, and Tommy Correa, Waiakea’s athletic director. “I think we just have to be prepared for whatever works best for the kids when we do get back together.
“We’re getting a variety of options on the table, so it’s not such a shock when we have to go with one. It’s going to be different.”
Perhaps the biggest difference, Crozier said, is public schools could be looking at 50% budget cuts, which likely would affect a number of components, including transportation, equipment and supplies and coaches’ salaries.
The transportation issue is particularly tricky for the BIIF because of the Big Island’s size. More than a decade ago, the league cut costs by separating schools on the two sides of the island in the regular season (Honokaa played with the West and Ka’u the East). A play-all format was readopted around 2013.
“Because of travel, maybe we would have to go back to the East-West schedule?” Crozier said.
“How many coaches are we going to have?” he added. “We usually have 13 coaches for football. Are we going to have five or six now?”
He said Correa brought a proposal to the table that would reduce the schedule for each of the 21 sports from 14 to 10 weeks, while Perry proposed pushing the start of the fall sports (football, girls volleyball, riflery, cross-country, bowling and cheerleading) to Aug. 31 under a “best-case scenario,” or even Sept. 28.
Last season, for example, a number of the state’s football teams, including Kealakehe and Kohala, played their first nonconference games in the first weekend of August, while Waiakea held its preseason girls volleyball tournament in mid-August.
There was talk Monday of starting the eight spring sports (baseball, softball, boys volleyball, water polo, golf, tennis, judo and track and field) that were canceled because of the pandemic back up in the fall, and pushing the fall sports to winter and the winter ones to the spring for 2020-21. However, at meeting Tuesday between the BIIF’s athletic directors, Crozier said the group didn’t show much of an appetite for the idea.
“I think we want to keep a sense of normalcy for the kids,” Crozier said.
“That’s priority No. 1,” Perry said. “Things are going to be disruptive, but it’d be less disruptive with this.”
Crozier called football the “elephant in the room.”
“Football is the one, because of contact and COVID-19,” he said, “we’d have to look at moving that back maybe, I’m not sure.
“Football is a money-maker that could help the 50% budget cuts, but are they going to allow fans (in the fall)? Are they going to allow play?”
No matter the sport, Crozier advised student-athletes “to begin the process of getting a sports physical as soon a possible” to avoid a bottleneck later in the year.
Perry and Crozier both said they expect the five leagues to remain uniform in the decision-making process and largely agree to reforms in lockstep manner.
“Overall, everybody I think is going to remain together,” Perry said.
That’s a BIIF’s theme, especially, he said. Hawaii Prep, a private school in Waimea, doesn’t face looming Department of Education budget cuts like its public school brethren, but it faces other uncertainties, such as trying to fill its enrollment goals from a international pool of students.
“Whatever one of us do (in the BIIF), we all do, we’ve always believed that,” Perry said. “We’re not just going to play Kamehameha all the time.”
The HHSAA committee plans to hold talks each Monday this month, followed by a BIIF session on Tuesdays.
“Just sharing insights and perspectives from all the different types of schools we have, so that’s helpful,” Perry said. “Someone may come up with a different idea, “Oh yeah, that looks good.’”