The Ohio High School Athletic Association has begun to take steps forward in its attempt to bring back prep sports following the announcement of Gov. Mike DeWine’s “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan on May 14.

During a forum with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission on May 21, OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said that while there are many obstacles remaining, he’s optimistic that there will be fall sports, including football.

“That’s a question that’s just burning for everyone,” Snodgrass said. “I want to preface it with no one wants (football) back more than we do. Soccer is one of the sports that continues to grow. The communities and the people want it back. I would tell you that the next couple weeks are going to answer that. What happens in the next couple weeks as we reopen Ohio responsibly is really going to determine what happens in the fall. I’m an eternal optimist and I do believe we will go back to some sort of normal routine. That’s the eternal optimist in me, but we are prepared if we can’t.”

The OHSAA announced May 18 that the no-contact period will be lifted May 26 for baseball, golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field, all of which have been deemed “low/non-contact” sports by the governor’s office.

The spring sports season, which includes baseball, softball, boys tennis and track, was canceled April 20 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

During a press conference May 21, the governor’s office announced that skills training and conditioning for all sports, including contact sports, may resume May 26 as long as safety protocols can be followed, but that tournaments, games and competitions for contact sports “are still prohibited for now.”

On May 19, the National Federation of State High School Associations released a guidance document for the return of prep athletics, which, according to Snodgrass, will serve as a “framework” to help guide schools.

“You go back to March and it’s absolutely amazing from March 10 to May 21 what has transpired in that period of time,” Snodgrass said. “I would tell you that as a staff, with our communication, we’ve been more engaged than we’ve ever been. A lot of it is on the fly. It’s been challenging, but at the same time, it’s what we signed up to do.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek