In a Friday morning webinar, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools announced it would delay the start of its fall sports season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The beginning of the fall season, originally set for Aug. 3, has been delayed until Sept. 8. TAPPS officials said regular updates will be provided in August and September as important dates approach and the state of the pandemic changes.
Summer rules will remain in effect from Aug. 3 to Sept. 7, or until members begin the school year, whether in-person or online.
In Montgomery County, The Woodlands Christian Academy, Legacy Prep, Calvary Baptist, Lifestyle Christian and Covenant Christian are all TAPPS members.
TWCA athletic director and head football coach Randy Hollas said he sent a recommendation to TAPPS to delay the start of the season by a month a few weeks ago and was ecstatic when the decision was announced Friday.
“Schools need time to figure out how school is going to work, and that’s the most important part of what we do,” Hollas said in a phone interview Friday. “Sports come after you figure out how you’re going to get kids in class and educate them. This gives us time.”
Legacy Prep athletic director and head football coach Clint McDonald said Friday he’s kept an eye out for what seemed like an inevitable announcement while also trying to protect his players from rumors around the ever-changing situation.
“As the coach, I try to keep all that stuff away from our kids just so they can concentrate on getting better,” McDonald said in a phone interview. “All they can do is keep grinding, and now they can just keep grinding a little more.”
After spring shutdowns of athletics, TAPPS schools were allowed to return to campuses for instruction and activities beginning June 1.
When COVID-19 cases around the state began to rise again toward the end of June, TAPPS did not require a shutdown of workouts, but acknowledged that many schools were pausing until July 13 and the pauses could be beneficial.
On Thursday, the Southwest Preparatory Conference, of which The John Cooper School is a member, announced a delay in fall competition until Sept. 8.
As of Friday afternoon, the University Interscholastic League had not made any official announcements regarding a delay of the fall season. A decision from the UIL is expected possibly as early as Monday.
“I think it’s awesome that TAPPS stepped out of the box a little bit with this because the notion was we were going to wait for the UIL to make all their decisions before we did,” Hollas said. “We’re not the UIL and although we share a lot of competitive moments with the UIL, we’re different, and if there’s ever a time when we needed to kind of step out on our own, it’s in a global pandemic. I’m just ecstatic about it.”
All five Montgomery County TAPPS schools have volleyball teams, and all but Calvary have cross country teams. TWCA and Legacy Prep play 11-man football, while Covenant plays 6-man.
On Sept. 8, all of the fall sports can begin in-season strength and conditioning, then all sports except football, fall soccer and field hockey will move on to practices and scrimmages on Sept. 14. Volleyball and individual sports — including cross country, team tennis, golf and swimming — begin interscholastic competition Sept. 21.
Fall soccer and field hockey can scrimmage beginning Sept. 21, then begin games a week later. Football will begin full pads practices Sept. 15, then have one scrimmage the week of Sept. 21. The week of Sept. 28 begins the season. Friday and Saturday of that week are Oct. 2 and 3.
In addition to fall dates changing, TAPPS also announced changes to the original winter schedule. The first day of practice moved from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2, the first day of scrimmages moved from Oct. 26 to Nov. 9, and the first day of games moved from Nov. 2 to Nov. 12.
Original schedules will need to be changed. Legacy Prep had the misfortune of the new first week of games being scheduled as a bye, so McDonald is searching for an opponent.
“With so many things up in the air, my initial feeling going into it was we’re going to back it up,” McDonald said. “I didn’t think we’d back it up that much — for us we’re going to lose all of our non-district games except for one. I’m just glad they didn’t cancel the whole thing.”
TWCA will also be limited to just one non-district contest, but Hollas stressed the important of gaining time for the school side of things to be figured out first.
“If you start on Aug. 3, you just don’t even know what’s going to happen,” Hollas said. “Is that going to endanger school from starting? I certainly didn’t want to be in the position of athletics impacting whether we start school. That’s the most important piece to my job — making sure that we educate kids.”