The AHSAA North-South all-stars are always full of great competition for fans and even better opportunities for players, who are hoping at an extra chance at recruitment.
However, that chance has been taken away this year. Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association director Jamie Lee announced at a press conference Monday the decision has been made to cancel this year’s North-South all-star week. Not only are officials worried about the safety of the players, but Lee said there is also a housing concern in Montgomery.
“The No. 1 priority is the health and safety of those athletes so we are not going to host those annual events,” Lee said. “However, we are going to still recognize those athletes. We have plans to send something to the schools so those schools can recognize their athletes in the upcoming school season that they were selected to be an all-star as well as the coaches.”
Most of the North-South rosters have already been announced, and Lee said the rest of the teams will be released by the end of this week.
In addition, the AHSAA also started a scholastic basketball event last year, the Elite 100 Showcase, which is a recruiting event for the top girls and boys basketball players around the state. Due to the NCAA putting a hold on all recruiting through at least the end of June, Lee announced the Elite 100 will be postponed and he is hopeful to host it in either August or early September.
“That’ll be based on information from the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations),” Lee said. “We will look to see what they recommend.”
The summer conference as well as the officials clinics will all be done virtually.
Also at Monday’s press conference, AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese reviewed the updates sent out last week in a release and made some clarifications. He said the AHSAA will have more updates Friday, when the new guidelines from the Alabama Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health are released.
But the biggest thing Savarese stressed was when student-athletes can return to play, it will be in groups — whatever the ADPH recommends — and those groups will be interchangeable. That means if the number remains at 10, which is what the ADPH currently recommends, a group of 10 players will be allowed to work out with only that same group.
Savarese used the term “physical distancing” rather than social distancing and said it is incumbent to maintain physical distancing with all activities. That includes meetings, workouts in weight rooms and drills outdoors.
If physical distancing cannot be maintained, face coverings must be worn. Savarese used the example of working with a spotter. In that case, some type of face mask will be required.
He also advised coaches and administration to be prepared for proper sanitization processes. Equipment must be sanitized between each use and will need to be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. For shared equipment, such as a football, individuals within each group can use the same ball but it must be sanitized between groups’ uses.
Although many of these guidelines will be difficult to follow, Savarese has no doubt the coaches and administration at member schools are up to the task.
“I get asked all the time, ‘Do you think coaches will maintain these guidelines?’” And absolutely,” Savarese said. “They’ve done an outstanding job prior to this time and they’ve already held accordingly (to guidelines so far). Our coaches love their kids and they’re going to make sure, first, to keep them safe and, second, to get them back into athletic activity as we enter this new phase of how to live with COVID-19.”
In addition to the updates that should be provided Friday, Savarese said he’s hopeful to have more information from AHSAA medical director Dr. James Robinson at the summer conference in July about the potential of fans attending games, what the limits would be and what other guidelines will need to be followed.
Savarese stressed safety of the athletes continues to be the No. 1 priority for the AHSAA.
“If we do what we need to do now, we will have more of an opportunity to return to normal in the fall,” Savarese said. “Our numbers continue to level out; our numbers continue to decline in some areas. Because of the guidelines that our governor has put in place and the department of public health, we’re able to do some of the things we’re able to do now. We encourage you to follow those guidelines.”