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Saturday, January 25, 2014
District Scheduling Plan For Football Approved

Relief is believed to be on the way for Minnesota high school football teams struggling to fill an eight-game regular season and those playing inequitable competition or traveling long distances for games.

The Minnesota State High School League board of directors approved Thursday the advent of “districts” to help some of the largest schools in the Twin Cities area as well as small schools in rural regions find more and better teams to play.

The high school league will create districts ranging from 10 to 16 schools each based on geography, enrollment and competitive levels. The schools will have control to set schedules beginning in the 2015 season.

A statewide committee will decide on district lineups in the spring, and they will be finalized by the MSHSL board of directors over the summer.

Schools with football teams grouped into the same districts will be able to meet no later than August with a goal of finalizing football schedules for 2015 and 2016 by November 1.

Before voting to approve the proposal, the MSHSL board of directors listened to comments from visitors at the meeting. One of those that spoke in favor of the idea was Mike Schmidt, the principal and activities director at Staples-Motley.

Schmidt said the Cardinals sometimes travel 10 hours round trip on a bus to play Friday nights

"We travel too far and too wide for our kids to see the relevance in that kind of commitment," said Schmidt. "Our Friday night lights are dimming in outstate Minnesota. We don't play Wadena, Pillager, Osakis. We travel through 31 communities on our way to our games that we would gladly pull over and play. ... I can't defend our schedule."

After listening to the comments and discussing the measure, the board passed it on a vote of 19-1.

According to the MSHSL, here are a few of the “basics” included in the proposal:

--Scheduling groups would be created around the state, based on factors that include school size, geography, “like schools” and strength of programs. The groups should consist of at least 16 or more schools whenever possible. The minimum size of any group is 10 schools. Districts could include teams from more than one class.

--A placement committee with representatives from all areas of the state would place schools into scheduling groups. Those decisions would be reviewed by the MSHSL’s Activities Director Advisory Committee and would have to be approved by the MSHSL board of directors.

--Districts would be realigned every two years to make adjustments for enrollment changes, changes in nine-man teams, changes in cooperative programs and changes due to programs being dropped, school consolidations, etc.

--A guideline is that the enrollment difference in any group should be no more than a ratio of 2-to-1, and when possible the ratio would be less than 2-to-1.

--All schools would be able to provide information to the placement committee, including important rivalries, willingness to play against larger schools, travel issues or a willingness to travel farther for a competitive schedule.

--Class 6A would follow the same plan as other classes, and some Class 5A teams may be included in groups with 6A teams based on enrollment and geography.

--Each school must play all eight of its regular-season games within its district. The only exceptions are districts with an odd number of schools. In that case, Zero Week games may be used to provide a full schedule or games could be scheduled against out-of-state teams.

--Each district would create schedules for teams in the district. Districts may create conferences or other sub-groups within the district for scheduling purposes.

--The section playoff format would remain the same as it is currently, with section seeding based on regular-season results.

ON ANOTHER FOOTBALL TOPIC

The board approved the timeline for the 2015 football season and playoffs. Because of the availability of TCF Bank Stadium, the Prep Bowl will be played two weeks earlier than normal that year, on Nov. 14-15.

The regular season will remain at eight games and the playoffs will not be shortened; those were options the board considered. Practice will start on Aug. 10 and the first games of the regular season will be allowed to be played on Saturday, Aug. 22 … that’s the normal day for preseason scrimmages. So preseason practices will last for two weeks instead of the usual three before the first game.

Posted By MSHSL/Kyle Gylsen
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Softball Will Expand To Four Classes

Following the lead of girls' and boys' basketball, softball in Minnesota will soon be expanding to four classes.

On Thursday, the Minnesota State High School League board of directors approved a request from the Minnesota Fast Pitch Softball Coaches Association to add a fourth class in that sport, beginning in 2016.

The MFPSCA conducted a survey of its members on the issue. Of the 224 responses, 186 (83%) voted yes, while 38 (17%) voted against the idea.

According to the MSHSL, the current state tournament format will remain, with the six softball fields at Caswell Park in North Mankato able to handle four classes and consolation play in each class.

Softball moved from two to three classes in the 2000 season.

In comparison, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s board of directors expanded to five classes in the sports of basketball, golf, softball and volleyball beginning with the 2012 softball season.

Posted By Kyle Gylsen
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Pettis To Be Honored On Minnesota Girls And Women In Sports Day

Diane Pettis of Sebeka will be among the honorees when some of Minnesota’s most inspiring and influential student-athletes, coaches and athletic leaders will be recognized as a part of the 28th Annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, February 5.

The 2014 Minnesota National Girls and Women in Sports Day award ceremony will take place on at the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul at 12:00 p.m. The ceremony will be conducted in conjunction with the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a nationwide celebration recognizing the accomplishments of individuals in the promotion and advancement of girls’ and women’s sports.

Pettis is one of 11 recipients of the Breaking Barriers Award. This award is for individuals or organizations that have broken barriers, overcome challenges and/or strive to provide athletic opportunities for girls and women of all races, all ages, and all levels of ability. Individuals should have: 

- Significantly contributed to girls/women sports programs/ opportunities in your community over a period of at least 5 years

- A positive attitude and be an exceptional role model

- Be focused on the needs /opportunities of girls and women in sports 

"We had a very large pool of potential honorees this year, so it is an honor to be a part of this group of winners," stated Sara Eisenhauer, the Sports Information Director at St. Catherine University and one of the chairs of this year's event.

Diane is a 1976 graduate of Bemidji State University, where competed on BSU championship teams in volleyball (1975), track and field (1974, 1975) and basketball (1974, 1976).

Pettis taught and coached at Sebeka High School from 1976 until retiring in 2012. She served as a head coach in four sports (volleyball, softball, girls' basketball and track and field) and guided various Trojans' teams to Park Region Conference Championships. Diane led the Sebeka softball team to its first-ever appearance in the State Tournament in 2012.

In 2000, she was named to the BSU Women's Athletics All-30th Anniversary Team as one of the top 30 best women athletes in Bemidji State University history. In 2002 Diane was inducted into the BSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

In all, the 2014 award ceremony will honor 17 individuals and two programs receiving awards in six separate categories:

The Marie Berg Award for Excellence in Education - Mary Eigner, Rosemount High School

The Girls' and Women's Sports in the Media Award - John Sherman, Sun Newspapers

The Wilma Rudolph Award for Courage and Inspiration - Rose Hollermann, U.S. Paralympian, wheelchair basketball

Special Merit Award - Cathy Peterson, Minneapolis South High School

Special Merit Award - Valerie Rogosheske, Boston Marathon runner

Special Merit Award - Carol Visness, Kittson Central High School

Minnesota Milestone Award - Concordia University, St. Paul Golden Bears Volleyball

Minnesota Milestone Award - University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Women's Hockey

2014 Breaking Barriers Awards -

Carol Alstrom, Tower Schools; Paula Devine, East Grand Forks High School; Jo Ellen Batty-George, Fred Wells Tennis Center; Cassandra Meyering, Minneapolis Public Schools; Julie Murphy, St. Cloud Cathedral High School; Vikki Pence, Alden-Conger School; Carol Peterson, Iron Range Volleyball Officials; Diane Pettis, Sebeka High School; Rick Ringeisen, Lakeville South High School; Valerie Swanson, Ridgewater College; Don Timm, Coon Rapids High School

Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day is sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership.

 

Posted By Kyle Gylsen
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Football Scheduling Decision Anticipated at MSHSL Meeting

At its Thursday, Jan. 23 meeting, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors is scheduled to take action in regard to how regular season football games are scheduled.

Ever since the inception of the section football playoffs in 1984, the question has been asked as to why not play only section opponents during the regular season—known as “Section Football.” Over the years a number of different schools have brought forward proposals to change to Section Football in order to help solve the continual challenges that some schools have trying to schedule regular season games. While there was interest in Section Football by some schools, perhaps 20-25 percent, there never was a large enough number in order to push through any change.

As time has progressed, more schools have had scheduling challenges—not always the same schools, but enough so that the percentage of those interested in Section Football grew. In 2009 the Board asked staff to put together a plan for Section Football. A Football Task Force began meeting in January of 2010 and after more than a year of work, their recommendation to the Board in March 2011 was to not to move to Section Football. The task force felt that even though the number of those in favor of Section Football had increased; and that Section Football could help to solve some scheduling issues; Section Football could cause more problems than it would fix.

Instead, the task force recommended adding Class AAAAAA, establishing a policy for the Zero Week concept, and establishing a scheduling clearinghouse in which the League office would assist schools in finding other schools to fill their schedule. The Board approved these recommendations. However, in doing so, the Board stated that if there were continued scheduling issues, Section Football would be “on the table.”

Those recommendations were implemented and have assisted schools in completing schedules, but there are still scheduling issues, and again in 2012, schools requested the Board to consider Section Football. At that point the Board decided to re-visit football scheduling, stating that the status quo was not the answer and that a change needed to be made.

League staff again reviewed options, and while a plan for Section Football was ready to go, other options needed to be considered due to the issues inherent with Section Football. The concept that evolved was a plan for what was called Scheduling Groups, or Pods, in which schools would be placed in groups and would then schedule regular season games within those groups. This plan, now known as District Scheduling, was shared with the Board and at recent Area Meetings.

The more that the District Scheduling plan has been developed, the more it seems to be a viable option. A special committee met twice this past fall to further develop the specifics of this plan, and a draft plan was discussed in detail at the Dec. 5, 2013, Board of Directors meeting.

Regular Season Football Scheduling is an action item on the Board agenda for its next meeting on Jan. 23. Member schools are encouraged to contact Board members to share their thoughts on this issue. Contact information for the Board member who represents you can be found on the League website. Use the pull-down menu under the About MSHSL tab on the home page and select the link for Contact Board of Directors.

 

Posted By Kevin Merkle/MSHSL
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