On a day when Hondo’s new athletic director and head football coach, Joe Dale Cary, happened to be in town to get matters settled before his family’s move, some news came down which everybody has been waiting for.
Governor Greg Abbott, during his Monday afternoon, May 18, press conference, announced that sports in the Great State of Texas can begin to make a comeback in June.
A lot of details have to be cleared up, but the message was a welcome one for Coach Cary, who has spent the last six seasons as the AD at Crandall High School, east of Dallas.
“If we’re allowed to, we’ll be starting summer workouts in Hondo soon,” he said, referring to weekday strength and speed training for HISD athletes heading into grades 7-12.
The governor’s announced date was Sunday, May 31. But the University Interscholastic League, on orders from the Texas Education Agency, announced a target date of Monday, June 8, whereby schools may begin limited athletic workouts and marching band activities.
The UIL contacted schools on Tuesday to let schools know of the June 8 date. A mystery remains, though, how schools will be allowed to implement the workouts, in regard to the number of students who may be working out at once, spacing rules, whether rules differ for indoor or outdoor workouts, etc.
A mention of “sports camps” by the governor would also seem to be granting permission, in some form, for the 2020 edition of the Hondo Multi-Sport Camp (as it’s been called over the past eight years or so), to get started as well.
Formats and schedules will still have to be worked out for the camps, which have typically been offered for young athletes starting as early as incoming third grade.
Where band is concerned, Mighty Owl Band director Brian Hecimovich says that there may be some band activities at some point during June. “I need to hear from (HISD superintendent) Dr. Truelock what the guidelines will be,” he said. “It depends on how socially distant we’ll need to be.”
With the coronavirus controlling everyone’s life since the second week of March, Monday’s news also could clear the way for other summer high school activities, including volleyball and basketball leagues, along with 7-on-7 football.
As with all of the other activities which are now back on the table, schedules have to be worked out.
Hondo has been a host for 7-on-7 for a number of years, but may see about the possibility of getting into an out-of-town league this year, according to Coach Cary.
Monday morning, before the governor’s announcement, Hondo volleyball coach Lauren Oefinger had received a message from Floresville High School, that they were still going to try to host a league in July. That came as welcome news, because a North East ISD league, which Hondo had registered for, had canceled its June schedule, as had the Harlandale ISD, where the Owls participated last summer.
Similarly, girls’ basketball coach Bailey Catalani had been holding out hope that the summer league her team had played in last year would materialize again. Boerne Geneva had not sent out any cancellation notices for its summer hoops league prior to the governor’s announcement, and with the green light given, will likely proceed, either in June or July.
All of those summer leagues will be works in progress for a few days, but with every coach in the state eager to get back to work, something will get worked out soon.
The governor also specifically mentioned Little League as an activity which may resume. Locally, however, both the Hondo and D’Hanis LLs, after waiting over a month in hopes that things would turn around, opted to cancel their 2020 seasons during the first week of May.
In addition, HHS has traditionally hosted a physical day, where all athletes and marching band members get their annual physical exams from local doctors for a nominal fee. D’Hanis, Sabinal and other area schools often participate as well.
This coming school year – and likely for this year only – a few changes will be made.
“One thing we do know,” said Coach Cary, “is any student who is new to band or athletics will HAVE TO have a physical. If returning kids have no issues or concerns, I think their current physical will suffice one more year. If any current student-athlete has an issue – heart, concussion, etc. – they will also have to have a new physical.”
Otherwise, there is still a lot of waiting to be done. But at least now, there is legitimate cause to be optimistic.
“We’ll be working to get summer workout schedules put together,” said Coach Cary, who met with his senior football athletes Monday afternoon. “We’ll let everyone know as soon as we can.
“My family is excited to be coming to Hondo, and I’m looking forward to getting to work. Now we just wait on a statement from the UIL.”