Alternate season provides high school student-athletes a chance to compete in fall sports this spring

Spring football is an opportunity for over 120 high schools to compete in the sport in the...
Spring football is an opportunity for over 120 high schools to compete in the sport in the 2020-21 school year.(WEAU)
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 7:55 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For roughly one-quarter of the high schools in Wisconsin, the alternate fall season taking place this spring is providing student-athletes a chance to compete in sports that weren’t able to take place in their normal spot on the calendar.

This March, volleyball, cross country, girl’s tennis, girl’s golf, boy’s soccer, and football began competing in an unprecedented arrangement that is allowing for modified seasons to take place between the normal winter and spring sports. Girl’s swimming and diving began its modified season in February.

Football, which by far has the largest number of participating student-athletes in Wisconsin across all sports, began its alternate fall season last Thursday, with La Crosse Central defeating Eau Claire Memorial 43-33, while Notre Dame rallied to take down Menasha 13-10. Over 100 schools are planning on competing in the alternate fall season, with 113 teams in 11-player and 14 teams in 8-player.

Alternate fall season football kicked off in late March across Wisconsin. Here, Lodi kicks off...
Alternate fall season football kicked off in late March across Wisconsin. Here, Lodi kicks off to Edgerton at Lodi High School.(Jimmie Kaska/WEAU)

In total, 51 of 52 scheduled games took place in 11-player football in its first week this spring, which will play seven weeks with no postseason this spring for the teams that opted to take part in the alternate season. In the fall, the teams that competed from September through November played nine weeks, with two weeks of regional culminating events in lieu of a full state playoff.

In July, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association voted to first delay the start of the fall sports season, then followed up in August with a plan to offer an alternate fall season in the spring for schools unable to take part in the traditional fall season due to local health regulations. About two-thirds of Wisconsin high schools opted to compete in the fall, while several high schools, mostly in Milwaukee and Madison, were not able to compete in either fall sports season.

A change to the scheduled seasons for winter and spring sports made the alternate fall season possible, with most winter sports shortening their seasons and competing in state tournaments two weeks earlier than originally scheduled, while spring sports were pushed back, with championship events in baseball and softball moving to the final week of June.

In the 2019-2020 school year, the state basketball tournaments were called off while they were in progress at the onset of mandatory lockdowns and pandemic mitigation, while spring sports were canceled entirely. During the WIAA Board of Control discussions on setting up the alternate season, more than a half-dozen proposals were considered, including the cancellation of the fall sports season entirely, before adopting the current setup.

Alternate fall season culminating events are planned for most of the sports taking place this spring, with the notable exception of football, which won’t have a postseason. The first championship of the alternate season will be Tuesday, April 6 with the girl’s swimming and diving state championship. Volleyball will be next, competing April 17. You can see the full list of dates for alternate fall season state championship events on the WIAA’s website.

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