Saturday, August 8, 2020

Will We Have A Fall Season???

Written Saturday August 8th at 12:15 PM

Will we see sports this fall???

There have been a ton of conflicting reports lately and also school districts have cancelled athletics and other extra circular activities for the fall season.

In College Football, the Mid-American Conference cancelled their season and the Big Ten could be on the verge of cancelling theirs in wake of this coronavirus outbreak.

Now it has trickled down to the high school game as well.

The Lansing School district decided that for the health and safety of everyone that they will call off athletics and extra circular activities according to MLive’s Jared Purcell.

In another article according to Matt Mowery of State Champs, he said that Southfield was considering the same thing although no decision had been made.

If schools make the decision about their districts not having fall sports it could not only have major consequences for the health and wellbeing of student athletes but for other conferences as well.

Most if not all schools should start their fall semester online in my opinion.

If Southfield were to cancel their fall sports schedule it would hurt the OAA. It could create a ripple effect and could possibly force a breakup of the league.

The coronavirus outbreak could force major mega conferences to break up in favor of smaller conferences based on travel.

The MHSAA made a decision in July to keep the sports structure as is and start the season on time but added four contingency plans to the mix if coronavirus cases go up in Michigan.

Last week the league went with a phases approach with the low risk sports in boys tennis, girls golf, girls swimming and diving, and cross country starting up on Wednesday while high/moderate risk sports like football, volleyball, and boys soccer will start their practices this week as well but the MHSAA said a decision will not be made on those sports until August 20th.

Most of Michigan remain in Phase Four under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s economic return plan but the Upper Peninsula and most of northwest and part of northeast Lower Michigan are in Phase Five.

In Phase Four of Whitmer’s plan indoor gyms are not allowed which greatly impacts volleyball and girls swimming and diving. Those sports are expected to practice outdoors.

It will be interesting in the next two weeks will be critical to see what happens in regards to fall sports but school districts and especially school boards have already went ahead with their plans.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Volleyball Districts Are Out 2020-2021.

Written Monday August 3rd at 4:15 PM

Normally the districts come out in June but with everything going on surrounding the virus. The MHSAA released the districts today. This blog will be updated throughout so stay tuned for the latest updates.

Here are the districts and the insight surrounding all 22 schools in the OAA.

Stay tuned to OAA Now for the latest information.

District 5 @ Holly
LAKE ORION
CLARKSTON
OXFORD
Holly
Waterford Kettering

FAVORITE: Lake Orion
NEXT: Clarkston
WILDCARD: Oxford, Holly
PLAYER ON SPOT: Lauren Staruch-Lake Orion.

INSIGHT: This has the makings of a very interesting district between three OAA powers and a Flint Metro League powerhouse in this district. What helps is Holly High School is very similar in size as of Lake Orion, Oxford, and Clarkston. The Dragons have went back to Battle Creek two straight years. The Wolves are in an interesting spot heading into the season. The Wildcats are on the cusp of breaking through. Lake Orion was very young last season. Coach Tony Scavarda has the majority of his team back in Kendall Robertson, Reagen Goeke, Lauren Staruch, Nina Horning, Taylor Butkiewicz, and Jada McCaulley. Clarkston is an interesting team as Coach Kelly Piner has Claire Nowicki, Alana Wattington, Summer Jidas, Madison McGraw, Sydney Hasenfratz, Molly Hoffman, Elizabeth Adams, and Paige Giegtbrock. Oxford as mentioned is on the way up and a lot of credit has to go to Coach Brian Kim. The Wildcats have Emma LaBarge, Molly Miller, Brooke Zeiter, Catherine Dobbs, Meghan Luptu, Julia Blair, Rachel Townsend, and Ava Wiscombe.  Holly will be an interesting team to keep an eye on. The Bronchos are veteran heavy led by Sarah Jewell, Marissa Walker, Kennedy Hogan, Sydney Meszler, Ashton Parker, and Delaney Jenkinson back for coach Deena Maher. Waterford Kettering could really struggle in this district. This district could be very interesting to keep an eye on. We shall see what happens.

District 6 @ Rochester
ROCHESTER
ADAMS
STONEY CREEK
Romeo
Utica Eisenhower

FAVORITE: Stoney Creek
NEXT: Adams
WILDCARD: Utica Eisenhower, Rochester
PLAYER ON SPOT: Lara Sebastian-Adams

INSIGHT: It was a disappointing regional for Stoney Creek last season but the Cougars gap in the city of Rochester could be narrowing just a bit. Coach Ross Talbott’s team lost a ton of talent from last season but they have Ainsley Guse, Kate Yatooma, Ella Markevicas, and Sydney Tomlak back. Adams was a hard team to figure out under Coach Terry Baugaman but they turned it around in the postseason and put Stoney Creek to the limit. The Highlanders have 11 of their 13 players back including Lauren Petersmark, Lara Sebastian, Elizabeth Blaine, Alexis Wuhas, Kennedy Jones, and Jacoby Flynn.  Rochester could be a player as well led by Riley Barber, Megan Lorenzo, Maggie Rogers, Hannah Crist, Pegi Laci, Nicole Miller, Anaya Rangarajan, Jasmine Savoi, and Lily Pilat for Coach Kirk Gibbs. Utica Eisenhower fresh off a disappointing loss to Stoney Creek in the first round will look to have a bounce back in Sydney Palazzolo, Kira Buza, Abbey Biermann and Angelina Tripi for Coach Caitlin LaPratt. Romeo has been an up and down team lately but Coach Stacey Williams should have the Bulldogs heading in the right direction. This district looks to be a three team race at the moment but it will be interesting who steps up in this very competitive district.

District 7 @ Waterford Mott
AVONDALE
BLOOMFIELD HILLS
PONTIAC
TROY
WEST BLOOMFIELD
Waterford Mott

FAVORITE: West Bloomfield
NEXT: Bloomfield Hills
WILDCARD: Troy
PLAYER ON SPOT: Grace Allread-West Bloomfield

INSIGHT: This looks to be a very interesting district when looking at the teams. West Bloomfield and Troy won district titles last season and they are in this district. The Lakers went to the regional final last season for Coach Lauren DeLuyck Forbes. Which helps is that West Bloomfield has three proven players in Grace Allread, Juliana Davis, and Kate Horvach. Bloomfield Hills had a very disappointing district final loss to Troy last season and will look to have a bounce back district. The Blackhawks have Ava Perucci and Ashlea Nwabueze for Coach Larry Wyatt. Troy could be in some trouble for Coach Tom Vigilant despite having Ella Davenport back, it could be a challenging year for the Colts as they lost a ton of talent from last season. Avondale had a struggling season last year and will look to improve. Pontiac has really struggled and they could very well do so again. Waterford Mott could have another struggling season as well. I see three teams having great shots to win this district.

District 25 @ TBA
FARMINGTON
NORTH FARMINGTON
Farmington Hills Mercy
Livonia Stevenson
Redford Thurston

FAVORITE: Farmington Hills Mercy
NEXT: North Farmington
WILDCARD: Farmington, Livonia Stevenson
PLAYER ON SPOT: Julia Bishop-North Farmington

INSIGHT: Farmington Hills Mercy is the defending Division One State Champions and they could be loaded again to repeat if things go right. The Marlins have Julia Bishop, Ellie Tisko, Charli Atiemo, Kaitlyn Collins, Lizzie Kitchen, Ella Sheilds, Leah LaFontaine, Madi Malecki, and Amina Robinson back for coach Loretta Vogel. Redford Thurston is an interesting team to keep an eye on as they had a young team last season and could make some noise. Livonia Stevenson could be a player this season as the Spartans are led by Alissa Pomicter, Jenna Szabelski, and Paige Bailey. Livonia Stevenson has a new coach which could be very interesting. Farmington is a player again for Coach Kate Drews. The Falcons got to the district finals last season and have a solid squad coming this season in Meghan Burba, Kayla Ghafari, Sara Hammoud, Emma Keils, Lizzy Bird, Lindsay Hubler, Brooklyn McDowell, and Val Pallett. North Farmington could be a player as well for coach Michael Love led by Lauren James, Charlotte Warner, and a ton of experience. This district should be interesting but end of the day this is Farmington Hills Mercy’s district to lose.

District 26 @ TBA
GROVES
SEAHOLM
ROYAL OAK
SOUTHFIELD ARTS AND TECH
TROY ATHENS
Birmingham Marian

FAVORITE: Birmingham Marian
NEXT: Seaholm
WILDCARD: Troy Athens
PLAYER ON SPOT: Sarah Sylvester-Birmingham Marian

INSIGHT: This is expected to be a loaded district but the favorite has to be Birmingham Marian because of proven experience. The Mustangs have a ton of talent back led by Ava Brizard, Laura Heming, Ava Sarafa, Tatum Casper, Sophia Espinosa, and Sarah Sylvester for Coach Mayssa Cook. Seaholm could be Birmingham Marian’s toughest challenger in the district. The Maples have a boatload of talent back in Anna McLeod, Maggie Liebler, Audrey Brown, Marlena Brown, Ella Stangland, Jessie Rebock, Jordan Rinder, and Kate Sullivan. Groves has a ton of talent back from last season led by Danielle Veasley, Becca Apsey, Rylee Wilson, and Greta Wilms for Coach Jessica Prepolec. Royal Oak should be better under second year coach Ciara Schultz. The Ravens also have very talented players in Jacie Walden and Delila Miller to rely on. Southfield Arts and Tech could be very interesting for Coach Alisha Love as they have a ton of talent back. Troy Athens looks to be the sleeper in the district. The Red Hawks are well coached under Kat Hall and they have several experienced proven players in Margaret Cubitt, Madison Kessman, and Ava Topico back along with Casey Gruber and Anneliese Schriber. This district could get very interesting to say the least.

District 27 @ Warren Fitzgerald
BERKLEY
OAK PARK
Detroit Mumford
Detroit Renaissance
Warren Fitzgerald
Warren Mott

FAVORITE: Detroit Renaissance
NEXT: Berkley
WILDCARD: Warren Mott
PLAYER ON SPOT: A’Lexus Everett-Detroit Renaissance.

INSIGHT: The early favorite in the district has to be the Phoenix. Detroit Renaissance has a very talented core group in A’Lexus Everett, Makenzie Jarvis, and Sasha Mayberry. Warren Mott will be an interesting team to watch this season led by Julia Vultaggio for Coach Camisha Coleman. Warren Fitzgerald could be a factor as well with the Spartans having Jahari Hannah taking on a much bigger role. Berkley will be an interesting team to keep an eye on as Coach Chantelle Corson has several sophomores she will be counting on in Ava Beard and Sawyer Jones. The Bears could be a player in this district. Oak Park could struggle in this district. Detroit Mumford could struggle as well. Right now I can see four teams having great opportunities to win this district.

District 51 @ TBA
FERNDALE
FERNDALE UNIVERSITY
Hazel Park
Detroit Old Redford Academy
Warren Lincoln

FAVORITE: Ferndale
NEXT: Hazel Park
WILDCARD: Ferndale University
PLAYER ON SPOT: Emily Foster-Ferndale

INSIGHT: The Eagles have been on a roll since Coach Stella Johnstone has gotten to Ferndale. Ferndale has won two straight district titles in that stretch but for Johnstone her Eagles need to take the next step and they are more than capable of doing that. Emily Foster has been a household name for Ferndale, she is only a junior. If the Eagles want to take that next step she has to be the catalyst to do so. The district doesn’t look as strong as it is even though Hazel Park will have a say. The Vikings have given Ferndale some trouble including two years ago where the Eagles beat Hazel Park in five sets at Hazel Park to earn their first district title. Warren Lincoln despite having Chante Hudgins, Ferndale University, or Detroit Old Redford Academy really shouldn’t threaten in this district. This district looks like it will be a two team race.

Volleyball website

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

MHSAA makes decision regarding start of Fall Season.

Written Wednesday July 29th at 3:10 PM

The MHSAA released a press release regarding what will happen next surrounding the fall season.

The league said that girls golf, boys tennis, cross country, and swimming and diving can begin practice on August 12th. The MHSAA said that these sports are deemed low risk sports.

The medium/high risk sports such as boys soccer, football, and volleyball have different guidelines.

Boys soccer and volleyball can start practice on August 12th however they can not have competition which includes tournaments and scrimmages. Football will start on August 10th but with no contact. On August 17th they can wear full pads. A decision will be made on competition would be made for these three sports will be by August 20th. Football can not scrimmage as well.

The league mentioned that this still remains a fluid situation as parts of Michigan including Oakland County is in Phase Four of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Return to School Plan. There are other parts of the state that are in Phase Five including the Upper Peninsula, Traverse City, and Alpena.

MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said in a radio show that "It's a wait and see approach when it comes to the three sports and that they are watching to see how the lower risk sports do."

Under Whitmer's plan for Phase Four, volleyball and swimming and diving are not allowed indoors but they could start outdoors.

Cross Country can have at maximum of 70 runners allowed while 72 players will be allowed at an 18 hole golf course. Volleyball, boys soccer, tennis, and swimming and diving can have a maximum of four teams for quads. If cross country teams have more than 70 runners than they could divide them up between varsity and junior varsity squads. Invitationals for these sports will be greatly impacted by this decision.

The MHSAA said that the situation still remains fluid and that they would release updated timelines for the three sports depending on how the spread of the coronavirus is statewide. So far Michigan according to Covid Act Now is in the medium risk.

Indiana is moving forward with their fall schedules as planned while Illinois has moved football, boys soccer, and volleyball to the spring. Ohio cancelled scrimmages for specific sports.

"The representative council, reflecting on the positive impact on their athletes this summer from taking part in offseason training, feels it's of the utmost importance to continue athletic activity moving forward. If we take a month off our students will find opportunities to compete through non school entities that may not be focused on safety. Our athletic directors and coaches can provide the safest possible environment to return to sports and this phased in approach to competition will help schools continue building on progress already made. The representative council chose to make these adjustments to help ensure our athletes have a safe regular season this fall. As we continue to solidify the regular season, we can then turn our attention to building a safe postseason for our athletes" Uyl added.

The league made a decision on July 17th despite Whitmer's recommendation to switch seasons to keep the seasons the same but allowing the possibility that fall sports could move to 2021.

Whitmer has been very supportive of the MHSAA thus far.

Uyl did mention that if the state went to Phase Three there would be no athletics but did offer hope if the state moved to Phase Five which is an attainable goal.

"The easy way out would be to postpone all activity to next spring and we are not taking the easy way out but we will make wise decisions based on medical guidance. We will make these difficult decisions quickly and appropriately. If we don't play this fall, it won't be because we didn't make every effort to do so." Uyl concluded.

We shall see what happens.

Stay tuned to OAA Now for the latest on this developing story.

Here is the Press Release from the MHSAA.


My Podcast July 31st

Sunday, July 19, 2020

MHSAA makes decision.

Written Sunday July 19th at 10:10 PM

So the MHSAA made a big decision on Friday afternoon.

The league announced that they will not change seasons meaning that fall sports will proceed in the fall however there will be contingency plans in place if there are possible interruptions because of the coronavirus.

The move by the MHSAA means that they will proceed as schedule and go against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recommendation that fall and spring sports switch.

Whitmer recommended the MHSAA switch in a June 30th press conference but according to the league they decided that switching the seasons was not feasible.

If the MHSAA cannot have fall sports in the fall then they have a plan to move them to 2021 and it is likely that the season could end in July.

Michigan right now is in Phase Four of Whitmer’s Return to School and Economic plan but with cases rising in the State Whitmer has said that the State could return to Phase Three which means all athletics are suspended and schools go to remote learning which nobody wants.

The MHSAA will meet again on July 29th.

Thoughts

I think it’s dangerous what the MHSAA is doing in wake of seeing the cases rise but the kids want to play that’s the bottom line.

For this to work, students need to be in school although if schools go to a hybrid model it can also be done as well. I still believe you can have low risk sports in Phase Three even though schools would go to remote learning but that’s my opinion.

The worst case scenario is if this issue becomes political very similar to schools. Nobody wants to see that happen.

Let the kids play that’s the bottom line.

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I have highest function of autism (Asperger Syndrome.) I'm a huge Dallas Stars fan. I like to play and watch football, especially when the Dragons play on Friday nights. I am a 2006 alum and used to play football for the Dragons. I ran track, I ran the 100, 200, 400 meter dashes along with shot-put and discus. During my time in Orion I was a manager for Junior Varsity Boys Basketball team. I'm the volleyball, girls basketball, and football announcer for the team and do the book on the road for girls basketball. I do the clock for volleyball in the fall along with girls basketball in the winter and announce some boys basketball games as well. In the spring I coach shot-put at Scripps Middle School, in my fifth season coaching. I run the shot-put for high school meets. I played Special Olympics Basketball, I've won three gold medals for them. I host "Between Taorminas" which is on ONTV along with a podcast called "OAA Now". In other various things outside of Lake Orion, I love to jet ski over Saginaw Bay. Saginaw Bay is basically my life. I'm a trained weather spotter for the National Weather Service for Oakland and Huron counties.