By Barbie Porter
High school sports began Monday, Jan. 4, and other school-related activities are also now underway.
Frazee-Vergas School District Activities Director Nick Courneya said the first competition date is set for Jan. 14.
“Originally I had games scheduled prior to the shut down, and I left them there hoping it would come through,” Courneya said.
The girls basketball team is poised to open with a game against Park Rapids with the boys team playing New York Mills on Saturday, Jan. 16.
“We’re still in the process of figuring out the dance competition,” Courneya said.
Dance can have triangulars, but currently Frazee has an event with nine teams. Courneya said one avenue they are exploring is to have three teams compete, leave and after a proper sanitization process the next three teams would come in until all of the teams had performed.
“The other option, the back-up option is to have virtual competitions where teams live stream their performance in their gyms for the judges,” Courneya said.
Regardless of the sport, details on spectator allowance at events is still up in the air, he added.
The district did announce that it plans to live stream varsity home events.
Creating schedules with a seemingly moving target, ensuring safety protocols are met and trying to continue strengthening relationships with students has become perhaps more challenging a job than ever before. Courneya likened it to a jigsaw puzzle that provides a challenge.
“It’s a good challenge though,” he said. “It is a challenge that, if successful, allows us to give kids the chance to compete at the highest level.”
Courneya applauded all activities directors, noting they have been working closely together with weekly meetings with the high school league as well as the Heart O Lakes Conference members. The goal is the same, and they all want to provide uniformed programming so athletes and spectators know what to expect regardless of which district the event is being held at.
As far as popular activities, such as robotics and competitions for band and choir, details are sparse.
Courneya said robotics advisor Andy Paulson chatted with him prior to Christmas break and last year’s robot would be used again this year. The game, the protocols and if there will be competition was still unknown.
Knowledge Bowl is set to start with its first competition on Jan. 12. Courneya said the event will likely take place virtually, with students at the event center, socially distanced. Questions will be presented for them to answer and the answers will be judged and scored from an outside group hosting the event.
As for band and choir competitions, which typically yields high scores from several Frazee students, that event is unknown.
When it comes to participation, Courneya said the numbers are fairly average as past years with neither a noticeable increase or decrease. Courneya said most students have the paperwork completed, although he suspects a few new faces may show up to join a sport as the practice begins.
The district is once again waiving activity fees for students whose parents fill out a free and reduced lunch application. The fee waiver is good for all sports and activities throughout the school year, regardless if the family qualifies for free and reduced meals or not.
Courneya said the program is a success with parents, as most take advantage of the opportunity. However, there have been instances where a family forgot about the option, paid the fee and then recalled the missed opportunity later. Courneya said the district has also accommodated those families by shifting the fee to a lunch account once the free and reduced lunch forms were filled out.
Whether or not the program will continue past this year is up in the air. While the district enjoys providing students with a free avenue to become active in sports or activities, the free and reduced lunch forms may equate to more funding for the district. Courneya said the district will examine the numbers to determine if the fiscal impact will allow the district to continue the program.