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Wisconsin High Schools Approved For Fall Sports Season

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Wisconsin is giving high school sports the green light for the fall season.

Soon-to-be sophomores Jenna Simmons and Nicole Hockin are taking private tennis lessons to prep for the fall season they hope to have at Hudson High School.

"I want to get on the team this year, and I'm really excited about it," Hockin said.

They just learned that their efforts might actually pay off. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association board voted 8-3 Thursday morning to allow high school fall sports to practice.

"Tennis is a good sport because you're far away, you're not going to be near each other," Hockin said.

Hudson, Wisconsin is home to several state championships, but even though Hudson High School hasn't officially said if they are having a fall season, Simmons and Hockin are thrilled that it's a possibility.

Wade Labecki, deputy director of the WIAA, says it will be too difficult to have state championship tournaments this year.

"What will probably happen is we'll keep it more to a district or a conference or regional type of title," Labecki said.

He said they voted to start practice for lower risk fall sports, including cross country, girls golf, girls swim and girls tennis, which can begin Aug. 17. Practice for football, boys soccer and volleyball can begin Sept. 7.

"It really condenses our sports because we're going to keep the same end dates, so instead of having nine football games, it will be down to three football games," Labecki said.

Read More: Wisconsin's Largest Teachers Unions Call For Online School

The board has guidelines for school districts to safely operate practices as well as games, if they even happen.

"A football sideline might go down to the 10-yard lines, everybody physically distancing by 6-yards each. If you're off the field, you're going to have your face mask on," Labecki said. "We're going to have guidelines for officials, face masks on, everybody has their own water bottle. All of those things are going to develop over this next month as we get into competitions."

The WIAA also voted to allow districts to opt out of fall sports all together and move them to the spring.

"We do allow our kids to participate in the state of Wisconsin in dual sports," Labecki said. "A lot of times you'll see a soccer player who's also a kicker on a football team."

Labecki says their vote was based less on competition, and more about camaraderie. Student-athletes Simmons and Hockin agree. Being with their team again is all they want.

"It's just a really nice bonding experience," Hockin said.

It will be up to school districts and local health leaders to decide whether fans will be allowed at sporting events.

Restrictions and guidance on fans and spectators is up to each individual school district and local health department guidelines.

The Minnesota State High School League has not made a decision on high school sports teams yet.

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to make a decision on Minnesota schools re-opening on July 30.

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