After several weeks of will they or won’t they, football, volleyball, tennis, and cross country practices and games are slated to begin in August for 1A-4A conferences. This includes Point Isabel ISD and Rio Hondo ISD.
However, for San Benito CISD, a 32-6A district, volleyball and football practices are allowed to begin on September 7.
The University Interscholastic League (UIL) made the announcement on Tuesday, July 21, after meeting on Monday, July 20 to discuss fall sports for the 2020-2021 academic year.
For 1A-4A school districts, volleyball and football practices begin August 3, with their first games on August 10 and August 27, respectively. Cross country and tennis games begin on August 17, with no set day for practices. Schools in 5A-6A athletic conferences start practices and games in September.
For 5A-6A districts, the first day of games for tennis and cross country is September 7; for volleyball it is Sept. 14; and for football, it is Sept. 24.
Whether or not school districts will adhere to the new calendar is up to them.
Last Tuesday, Cameron County Health Authority and Judge Eddie Treviño issued an order delaying in-person instruction until September 8, which included athletics, due to rising COVID-19 cases in the lower Valley.
“Extracurricular sports and activities shall not take place until school systems re-open for on-campus instruction,” read the order.
This poses a problem for SBCISD athletics, as the school district released a timeline Tuesday extending remote instruction until October 21, in accordance with the Texas state government’s order allowing schools to begin online-only instruction for up to the first eight weeks of the school year.
“We are currently waiting on any updated information from our county,” said San Benito’s athletic director and head football coach, Dan Gomez. “Yes we want our seniors to have an enjoyable high school experience but the health of every human being is number one on our list of Greyhound priorities.”
Rio Hondo ISD, meanwhile, confirmed they are having their first three weeks of instruction through remote learning, but have not decided on when in-person instruction will resume.
Athletics are postponed, not canceled (yet), assured Rio Hondo Athletic Director and head football coach.
“In our communities here, I don’t see it being a ‘yes’,” said James. “I agree with the order; I feel people’s safety comes way before football, and this may be the year we end up without sports, at least for the first half.”
Coach James informed that his school’s summer strength and conditioning program usually has about 130 boys and girls, from 7th through high school, participating. The school only held the program for two days before they canceled it.
Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez also postponed in-person instruction until September 27, creating a further delay within the Greyhounds’ district, as UIL’s latest realignments added Donna North and Weslaco High to District 32-6A’s roster.
“We are optimistic on sports being played this year,” said Coach Gomez. “Our job as coaches is to be ready for whatever comes our way. We adjust to the circumstances safely and effectively as allowed.”
At Point Isabel Independent School District (PI-ISD), Superintendent Theresa Capistrant and Athletic Director have requested UIL to delay 1A-4A schools’ athletic program start dates to September, the same as 5A and 6A districts.
Capistran said PI-ISD had spearheaded this effort, as more Rio grande Valley and South Texas school districts are requesting a delayed start to their athletic programs. A suspension of athletic programs altogether is also possible, as COVID-19 cases continue rising at exponential levels in the Rio Grande Valley, Capistran said.
Capistran told the PRESS that Judge Treviño was in support of this delay when she notified him.
PI-ISD will be notified of UIL’s decision sometime next week, Capistran said.