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Athletic Directors working around the clock as winter sports approach

Questions remain about masks, testing, spectators
Athletic directors working around the clock as winter sports near
Posted at 1:43 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 13:44:10-05

(WXMI) — Most Athletic Directors across the state of Michigan are elated with the return of winter sports next week.

However, their jobs are not easy as they quickly seek answers to different protocols and work to round out their winter schedules.

"I was up this morning at 4:15 just because I couldn't sleep," said East Grand Rapids AD, Tim Johnston.

Athletic Directors prepare for winter sports season

We're in unprecedented times for everyone right now, including Athletic Directors.

"There were no interview questions about any of this when I interviewed for the job, that's for sure," joked Todd Conrad, the Athletic Director at Mona Shores.

The ADs remain on call around the clock right now.

"My wife is getting used to me stepping out and having to take a phone call during bedtime or time with the kids," added Jordan Bandstra, the AD at Hamilton.

Despite Thursday's announcement of winter sports returning, the ADs are still left with a lot of questions ahead of Monday's start date.

"There are questions around spectators, masking, pilot testing for sports other than wrestling, what does it look like for cheer," asked Bandstra.

Of course, there's concerns over positive tests which would result in quarantine of teams.

"Some teams are going to have to go into quarantine," added Conrad, "we have to work out what happens when that happens in terms of conference standings and things like that."

Another question is regarding the amount of spectators allowed at the events.

Johnston is in his 38th year of educational athletics but like his colleagues, he's still searching for some answers.

"I'm not going to put out there that our basketball game on Wednesday against Byron Center I can have 500 guests when it's really only two per kid, because I'll upset a lot of people," he said.

Some sports, like wrestling, will have to be tested on a regular basis. Fortunately, for the three aforementioned Athletic Directors, they've all been through it before with their fall teams that were tested weeks ago.

"Once you get rolling with it, it's pretty seamless but it takes man hours and I think there's more anxiety with it that really needs to be," Johnston added.

Bandstra also says it was stressful but fairly simple once it all got going.

"By the end of it, the actual testing part was pretty quick but the data entry is the big thing on the back end for the athletic trainers, it's a pretty cumbersome system to get the data entered."

While most of the schedules are already completed, there are still teams and Athletic Directors scrambling to round it all out, even after four or five changes to this point.

"At this point we're not going to do a fifth rewrite, we're just going to try to make as few changes as possible," Conrad added.

"Yeah, I feel pretty good about where our schedules at," said Bandstra at Hamilton, "we have to make a few calls to some local ADs this afternoon yet to lock in some basketball dates."

It's a thankless job with insane hours right now but the ADs say it's all worth it for their student-athletes.

"We've said for weeks and months that if we just get the chance we're going to do it right and we have that chance and that's our commitment to our community and our kids," said Conrad.

And Johnston says he knows enough of his colleagues and will speak for them all when he says they're all looking forward to the season returning.

"There's not one of us that will say they won't do it, we're going to do what it takes to give our kids a chance to participate."

The Athletic Directors and schools are expecting more information regarding the remaining questions at some point on Sunday from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and MHSAA.