NFHS sets COVID-19 guidelines for summer workouts

SM-Tn Sports

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association recently distributed a pair of documents related to the restart of activities under COVID-19 guidelines to its membership, as programs begin offseason preparation for the fall sports seasons.

From the TSSAA:

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recently released its Return to Sport Guidelines to state high school athletic associations across the country. You are receiving this document from TSSAA to serve as guidance for informational purposes.

What has become very clear is that policies enacted at the state, city, and local levels may ultimately determine whether or not you are able to engage in the specific types of activities described in this document. As a result, TSSAA is not in a position to develop policy regarding coordinated approaches to activity. The NFHS guidelines are based on the federal guidelines for the phased reopening of America.

We are not aware of a central repository of information that delineates what recovery phase your school or school system may be under. When using this document, you will need to consult with local authorities in determining which of the three phases would be appropriate for the development of your specific guidelines. 

We know that a number of you either have developed, or, are in the process of developing your own guidelines for your school or school system. We encourage you to review the attached document as you develop your school or school system policy. 

If you have access to the services of a certified athletic trainer, school nurse, office of coordinated school health, central office staff, governing boards and local health departments, consider collaboration with these individuals in an effort to develop specific plans that will enable kids to safely return to activities. As we become aware of additional resources that can assist you in this process, we will quickly pass those along. 

In addition to guidelines for practice and conditioning sessions, the NFHS document contains guidelines for contests. Questions about regular season contests, postseason tournaments, playoffs and state championships are matters that we believe are best addressed at a later date. We will continue to examine these issues in an effort to develop answers as new information and guidance becomes available. 

We know these are important issues, but our most urgent focus is on safely returning kids to activities this summer. Preliminary research strongly suggests that school closure and cancellation of activities is having a significant impact on the physical and mental health of students. It is our hope that this guiding document will help schools design specific plans that maximize opportunities for their students to return to activities while minimizing the risk for COVID-19 exposure.

From the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee:

The COVID-19 pandemic presents state high school associations with a myriad of challenges. The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offers this document as guidance on how state associations can consider approaching the many components of “opening up” high school athletics and activities across the United States. 

The NFHS SMAC believes it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition. The NFHS SMAC recognizes that it is likely that ALL students will not be able to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time in all schools, regions and states. There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held. While we would typically have reservations regarding such inequities, the NFHS SMAC endorses the idea of returning students to school-based athletics and activities in any and allsituations where it can be done safely. 

Since NFHS member state associations are a well-respected voice for health and safety issues, the NFHS SMAC strongly urges that these organizations engage with state and local health departments to develop policy regarding coordinated approaches for return to activity for high school, club and youth sports. 

The recommendations presented in this document are intended as ideas for state associations to consider with their respective SMACs and other stakeholders in designing return-to-activity guidelines that will be in accordance with state or local restrictions. 

Please note that the phases of “opening up” outlined below are based upon the White House document released in April 2020. Consult your state and local health departments to review if they are using a similar approach, or how the phases in this document correspond to your state or local governments nomenclature. 

Some state associations may wish to consider the following four questions before further deliberation on this document: 

1. Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if public schools statewide are closed to in-person learning (apart from regularly scheduled school breaks)? 

2. Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if schools are closed only in COVID-19 “hotspots” in your state? (excluding participants from schools that are closed)? 

3. Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season in sports deemed “lower-risk” for COVID-19 transmission while cancelling athletics/activities considered “higher-risk?” 

4. Are there recommendations unique to your state – or regions of your state – that you need to take into consideration when developing return-to-activity guidelines? 

Points of Emphasis: 

1. Decreasing potential exposure to respiratory droplets is the guiding principle behind social distancing and the use of face coverings. It is also the basis of the stratification of risk by sport presented later on in this document. The use of cloth face coverings is meant to decrease the spread of respiratory droplets. As state and local COVID-19 prevalence decreases, the need for strict social distancing and the use of face coverings will lessen. Look to guidance from your state and local health departments. 

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is additionally “advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

B. Recognizing the benefits and potential drawbacks of the use of cloth face coverings during conditioning and physical activity, the NFHS SMAC recommends the following: 

i. State, local or school district guidelines for cloth face coverings should be strictly followed. 

ii. Cloth face coverings should be considered acceptable. There is no need to require or recommend “medical grade” masks for athletic activity. 

iii. Any student who prefers to wear a cloth face covering during a contest should be allowed to do so. 

iv. In the absence of guidelines to the contrary, we recommend that cloth face coverings be worn by students during Phases 1 and 2 as outlined below. Exceptions are swimming, distance running or other high intensity aerobic activity. Cloth face coverings may continue to be used during Phase 3 when not engaging in vigorous activity, such as sitting on the bench during contests, in the locker room and in the athletic training room. 

v. Plastic shields covering the entire face (or attached to a helmet) shall not be allowed during contests. Their use during practices increases the risk of unintended injury to the person wearing the shield or teammates. 

vi. Coaches, officials and other contest personnel may wear cloth face coverings at all times during Phases 1 through 3. (Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn or a timer system with an alarm can be used to signal in place of a traditional whistle.) 

2. Testing regimens, specific guidelines regarding mass gatherings, and response to a student or team member testing positive for COVID-19 (including contact tracing) are all currently under review, and guidance will come from CDC and state and local health departments. Limited testing availability, lack of resources for contact tracing, and expanding knowledge of the characteristics of COVID-19 transmission could all result in significant changes to the recommendations below. The NFHS SMAC and state association SMACs expect to disseminate this information as it becomes available. 

3. Due to the near certainty of recurrent outbreaks this coming fall and winter in some locales, state associations must be prepared for periodic school closures and the possibility of some teams having to isolate for two to three weeks while in-season. Development of policies is recommended regarding practice and/or competition during temporary school closures, the cancellation of contests during the regular season, and parameters for the cancellation or premature ending to post-season events/competitions. 

4. With the uncertainty of which phase will be attained at the beginning of a sports season or maintained during a season, scheduling contests that require less travel when possible should be considered. Such scheduling will reduce time spent in buses or vans. It will also potentially decrease the need for rescheduling contests as “opening up” may occur regionally. If opponents at the time of a contest are subject to different restrictions, re-scheduling that contest for a later date may be problematic. 

5. The principles presented in this guidance document can be applied to practices, rehearsals, and events for the performing arts with the exception of singing and the playing of wind instruments. The extent of the spread of respiratory droplets during these activities is currently under investigation and further guidance will issued as it becomes available. 

6. “Vulnerable individuals” are defined by CDC as people age 65 years and older and others with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy. 

7. Until a cure, vaccine or very effective treatment is readily available, or so-called “herd immunity” is confidently reached, social distancing and other preventive measures such as face covering will be a “new normal” if workouts, practices and contests are to continue. 

Areas to Address: 

1. Administrative 

A. Preparticipation Physical Evaluation 

Due to concerns regarding access to primary care providers during the late spring and early summer, the NFHS SMAC released a position statement giving guidance to state associations concerning timing of the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation. Options vary from a one-year extension to keeping current requirements. State associations and their SMACs can also consider interim history updates by having students complete a form or having a telemedicine visit with their primary care provider. 

B. Mandatory Education 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the cancellation of essentially all “in person” educational events. It is recommended that online education courses take the place of “hands on” or in-person training, whenever possible. This includes accepting online training courses for AED/CPR and First Aid for the 2020-21 academic year. 

C. Equipment Reconditioning 

The National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) has advised the NFHS that significant equipment reconditioning capacity is currently operational. If schools have not sent out equipment for reconditioning, they should be directed to do so immediately. If schools currently have equipment being reconditioned, a school official should contact the reconditioning company to make specific delivery arrangements if their school is currently closed. 

D. Conduct of Conditioning and Practice Sessions 

Phases are in accordance with guidelines published by the White House and CDC available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/. Please consult with your local or state health department regarding their plan for “opening up” your state. Not all states are using the same criteria, and what is allowable during specific phases will vary from state to state, or even within a state. Use the following as a resource in designing a plan for your state. Please note that there will be “gating” criteria to establish Phase 1 and the further criteria must be met to advance from one phase to the next. These criteria will be determined by state and/or local governments and must be strictly followed. 

Phase 1 

Pre- workout Screening: 

• All coaches and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout. Screening includes a temperature check. 

• Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored so that there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19 (see Appendix II for sample Monitoring Form). 

• Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional. 

• Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any workouts during Phase 1. 

Limitations on Gatherings: 

• No gathering of more than 10 people at a time (inside or outside). 

• Locker rooms should not be utilized during Phase 1. Students should report to workouts in proper gear and immediately return home to shower at end of the workout. 

• Workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students always working out together. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection. 

• There must be a minimum distance of six feet between each individual at all times. If this is not possible indoors, then the maximum number of individuals in the room must be decreased until proper social distancing can occur. 

Facilities Cleaning: 

• Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases. 

• Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

• Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 

• Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 

• Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times in the weight room to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. 

• Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered. 

• Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. 

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: 

• There should be no shared athletic equipment (towels, clothing, shoes, or sports specific equipment) between students. 

• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing) individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout. 

• All athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned after each use and prior to the next workout. 

• Individual drills requiring the use of athletic equipment are permissible, but the equipment should be cleaned prior to use by the next individual. 

• Resistance training should be emphasized as body weight, sub-maximal lifts and use of resistance bands. 

• Free weight exercises that require a spotter cannot be conducted while honoring social distancing norms. Safety measures in all forms must be strictly enforced in the weight room. 

• Examples (including by limited to): o A basketball player can shoot with a ball(s), but a team should not practice/pass a single ball among the team where multiple players touch the same ball. o A football player should not participate in team drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no sharing of tackling dummies/donuts/sleds. o A volleyball player should not use a single ball that others touch or hit in any manner. o Softball and baseball players should not share gloves, bats, or throw a single ball that will be tossed among the team. A single player may hit in cages, throw batting practice (with netting as backstop, no catcher). Prior to another athlete using the same balls, they should be collected and cleaned individually. o Wrestlers may skill and drill without touching a teammate. o Cheerleaders may not practice/perform partner stunts or building. (Chants, jumps, dances without contact are permissible.) o Tennis players may do individual drills, wall volleys and serves. o Runners should maintain the recommended six feet of distancing between individuals 

Hydration: 

• All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 

• Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized. 

Phase 2 

Pre-Workout/Contest Screening: 

• All coaches and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout. Screening includes a temperature check. 

• Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored so that there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19 (see Appendix II for sample Monitoring Form). 

• Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional. 

• Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any workouts during Phase 2. 

Limitations on Gatherings: 

• No gathering of more than 10 people at a time inside. Up to 50 individuals may gather outdoors for workouts. 

• If locker rooms or meeting rooms are used, there must be a minimum distance of six feet between each individual at all times. 

• Workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students always working out together. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection. 

• There must be a minimum distance of six feet between each individual at all times. If this is not possible indoors, then the maximum number of individuals in the room must be decreased until proper social distancing can occur. Appropriate social distancing will need to be maintained on sidelines and benches during practices. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and coaches. 

Facilities Cleaning: 

• Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases. 

• Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

• Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 

• Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 

• Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times in the weight room to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. 

• Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered. 

• Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. 

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: 

• Lower risk sports practices and competitions may resume (see Potential Infection Risk by Sport below). 

• Modified practices may begin for moderate risk sports. 

• There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing or shoes between students. 

• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout. 

• All athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned intermittently during practices and contests. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices. 

• Athletic equipment such as bats, batting helmets and catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. 

• Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar. 

Hydration: 

• All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 

• Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized. 

Phase 3 

Pre- Workout/Contest Screening: 

• Any person who has had a fever or cold symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health- care professional. 

• A record should be kept of all individuals present. 

• Vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed. 

Limitations on Gatherings: 

• Gathering sizes of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors. 

• When not directly participating in practices or contests, care should be taken to maintain a minimum distance of 3 to 6 feet between each individual. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and coaches. 

Facilities Cleaning: 

• Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases. 

• Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

• Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 

• Weight equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 

• Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times in the weight room to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces. 

• Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered. 

• Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. 

Physical Activity and Athletic Equipment: 

• Moderate risk sports practices and competitions may begin. 

• There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing or shoes between students. 

• Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout. 

• Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all contests and practices. 

• Athletic equipment such as bats, batting helmets and catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment, such as hockey helmets/pads, wrestling ear guards, football helmets/other pads, lacrosse helmets/pads/gloves/eyewear should be worn by only one individual and not shared. 

• Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar. 

• Modified* practices may begin for higher risk sports: oContinue pre-practice screening as in Phases 1 and 2. Shower immediately after practices/contests. o Re-assess epidemiology data and experiences in other states and other levels of competition to determine when higher risk sports competition may resume. 

Hydration: 

• All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 

• Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) may be utilized but must be cleaned after every practice/contest. 

E. Contests 

i. Potential Infection Risk by Sport (modified from United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee – Sports Medicine recommendations) 

Higher Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. Examples: Wrestling, football, boyslacrosse, competitive cheer, dance.

Moderate Risk: Sports that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants. Examples: Basketball, volleyball*, baseball*, softball*, soccer, water polo, gymnastics* (if equipment can’t be sufficiently cleaned between competitors), ice hockey, field hockey, tennis*, swimming relays, pole vault*, high jump*, long jump*, girls lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell, 7 on 7 football *Could potentially be considered “Lower Risk” with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants 

Lower Risk: Sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors. Examples: Individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, alpine skiing, sideline cheer, single sculling, cross country running (with staggered starts) 

ii. Transportation to events 

Schools must consider social distancing requirements when scheduling contests and events for the fall. Social distancing (as required by state or local health department) will need to be maintained on buses/vans. Thus, multiple buses/vans and/or parental/guardian transportation will likely be needed. 

iii. Social distancing during Contests/Events/Activities 

a. Sidelines/benches: Appropriate social distancing will need to be maintained on sidelines/bench during contests and events. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and coaches. 

b. Who should be allowed at events? Group people into tiersfrom essential to non-essential and decide which tiers will be allowed at an event: 

• Tier 1 (Essential): Athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff, security. • Tier 2 (Preferred): Media. • Tier 3 (Non-essential): Spectators, vendors. Only Tier 1 and 2 personnel will be allowed to attend events until state/local health departments lift restrictions on mass gatherings. 

F. Athletic Training Services 

Given the coming financial crisis at the state and local levels, the NFHS SMAC fears that athletic trainer positions will be seen asa “luxury” and those positions will be at risk during the budgeting process. It is also assumed that athletic trainers supplied to high schools by hospitals and sports medicine clinics are also at risk as many medical clinics and hospitals have suffered severe revenue loss during the pandemic. 

Athletic trainers in high schools are positioned to play a vital role as sports return following this pandemic. As health-care professionals, they can take lead roles in developing and implementing infection control policy throughout the school. Whenever needed, state associations and their SMACs should promote the importance of athletic trainers in high schools and their role in injury evaluation, treatment and risk minimization as well as being a vital component of any return-to-school and athletics plan. 

G. Return to Physical Activity 

Current pre-season conditioning and acclimatization models assume that athletes have deconditioned over the summer months. The current pandemic may result in students being deconditioned for four to five months. The NFHS is currently involved with a number of other organizations in developing consensus guidelines for fall sports practices. These guidelines will be sent to state associations immediately after they are finalized and approved by all involved organizations. 

H. Hygienic 

i. Illness reporting 

Create notification process for all event athletes, coaches, event staff, media, spectators and vendors if the organizers/medical personnel learn of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the event. 

ii. Considerations for Officials, Coaches, Other Personnel 

1. Vulnerable individuals should not participate in any practices, conditioning activities, contests or events during Phases 1 and 2. 

2. Masks may be worn, social distancing enforced and “Hygiene Basics” adhered to in all situations. 

CONTINUE TO PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE 

• Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. 

• Avoid touching your face. 

• Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. 

• Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible. 

• Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit. 

PEOPLE WHO FEEL SICK SHOULD STAY HOME 

• Do not go to work or school. 

• Contact and follow the advice of your medical provider. 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS 

1. Wide availability of hand sanitizer at contests and practices. Participants, coaches and officials should clean hands frequently. 

2. Wiping down ball and equipment frequently. 

3. No pre-game and post-game handshakes/high-fives/fist bumps. 

4. Officials and sideline volunteers should be given option to wear face coverings (may use artificial noisemaker in place of whistle).

Fox trot leaves openings at Zion

By Maurice Patton

One departure leaves Zion Christian Academy with three athletic staff vacancies.

Tommy Fox, who has served as boys basketball coach, softball coach and athletics director at the school, has accepted similar roles at Wayne Christian School in Goldsboro, N.C. Fox will rejoin former Zion football coach, AD and interim head of school Paul Brenner at the K-12 institution.

“Obviously we’re close from when we were back at Zion. I had the opportunity to hire him there and work with him there,” said Brenner, school head at Wayne Christian. “I just think the world of him. He’s great with kids, he’s a super head coach, I love his family – his wife (Tara) is a great teacher as well. We’ve just stayed in contact with each other. Not only did we work together, but we’re good friends. We went to church together.”

Fox, hired as boys basketball and softball coach prior to the 2013-14 school year, took on AD duties in 2017 — succeeding Brenner in that role – along with the girls basketball coaching position. He relinquished the latter this past season with the hiring of Emory Ujano, who was recently dismissed as well.

“I really wasn’t looking at all,” said Fox, 44. “We got presented with a really good opportunity. Any time you’re presented with an opportunity, you’ve got to take a look at it and do what’s best for your family. I didn’t know it was the best thing for my family when I got the call, but after a tremendous amount of prayer and some wise counsel, it sounded like a great opportunity.”

Adam Thomas, upper school principal, said the plan for filling four staff positions is taking shape.

“We’re discussing how all that plays out right now,” he said. “Finding a person that can do as many different things as Tommy is not an easy find. He did a lot of things and he was good at a lot of things. As much as I’m happy for him, I’m sad for myself and all the folks that are going to miss him. He’s a tremendous person to have at Zion and a tremendous loss.

“We’d obviously love to have an AD that could coach; that’s something we’ll look at. But a lot will be determined by who are our opportunities, and then who best fits the mission of Zion.”

Fox said he will remain at Zion through the end of his contract, which expires July 31, before he, Tara and their seven children head east.

“Zion’s a very dear place to my heart,” he said. “My kids love Zion, I love Zion. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and a lot of hard work, and I’ve coached some great kids. I’ve definitely been blessed by being here.”

Veteran high school, college coach to take Indy girls helm

By Maurice Patton

After achieving record-setting success during a previous Williamson County stint, Tony Hill is set to return as girls basketball coach at Independence.

Hill will be the fourth different coach at the helm of the Lady Eagles in as many seasons. He succeeds Mary Beth White, who led the program on an interim basis in 2020-21 after Bryan Glasner – who took over for Whitney Baird at the end of the ’18-19 campaign – was unavailable and eventually resigned in February.

“We are very excited to welcome Tony Hill to ‘Indy Nation’,” Independence principal Niki Patton said in a prepared statement. “Coach Hill brings a tremendous amount of basketball experience from both the high school and college levels, and we believe his coaching skillset brings our girls basketball program what it needs to take that next step in becoming a championship caliber team.

“He is passionate about the game of basketball, but more importantly, he is passionate about facilitating success for our girls in both athletics and academics. We are thrilled that Coach Hill will be joining our school community and look forward to the future success of our program.”

Most recently a member of the girls basketball coaching staff at Riverdale, Hill led Centennial to a four-year record of 55-48 from 2013-17, with the Lady Cougars posting their first winning record (18-8) in 2015-16 followed by a 19-win performance a year later. That season saw the program’s first district tournament victory, its first district finals appearance, first region tourney berth, first region finals and first state sectional.

Two months later, Hill resigned to take over the girls program at Portland. He’s since spent a season at Huntland and the last two at Riverdale.

Tony Hill, announced Wednesday as girls basketball coach at Independence, meets with his new team. (Courtesy photo)

“I’ve always had an eye on Independence,” Hill said. “I think that’s a job that’s a diamond in the rough, so to speak. I’ve always felt like you can win there. The pieces are in place – a great administration, a strong feeder program, … a lot of support from the community. I feel that’s a great place to coach girls basketball.

“With the realignment as it is now, you hope you can put yourself in a position to get to region play and make a run in the region tournament. When the opportunity presented itself, I reached out and was very excited to get the opportunity to be there. I’ve known a lot of those coaches for a long time. I can’t wait to work with them.”

Independence will compete for the next two seasons in District 12-AAAA, a five-team league with Columbia Central, Summit, Ravenwood and Nolensville. Presumably, the top four district tourney finishers will advance to regional play.

Hill said he intends to speak with assistants Jack Harlow and Dominique St. Louis and gauge their interest in continuing in those roles.

“We’re going to have a conversation and see where everybody’s head is. Certainly that’s a consideration,” Hill said regarding the return of Harlow, a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Hall of Fame inductee after winning 564 games at Franklin County, Columbia Central and Bradley Central. “I had the pleasure of meeting him at the State Farm Classic. He’s a great basketball guy, done a lot of great things.

“I would definitely want to sit down with him and Coach St. Louis and see if they’re interested in coming back.”.  

Prior to his 2013 arrival in Middle Tennessee, Hill had served as girls coach at Milan in West Tennessee, following collegiate head coaching stints at Lambuth University in Jackson – where he was named Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year in 2010 — and at Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Rundown: April 14, 2021

Tuesday Results
Baseball

Coffee Co. 6, Lawrence Co. 2
Columbia Central 10, Shelbyville 6
Eagleville 13, Cascade 3
North Jackson (Ala.) 6, Franklin Co. 2
Tullahoma 15, Lincoln Co. 5
Mt. Pleasant 6, Hampshire 0
Brentwood 3, Page 2
Spring Hill 6, Dickson Co. 0
Fairview 22, East Hickman 1
Franklin 4, Ravenwood 1
Lewis Co. 5, Hickman Co. 4
Summit 4, Centennial 0
Community 10, Giles Co. 9
Nolensville 7, Forrest 5
Perry Co. 12, Frank Hughes 0
Summertown 3, Loretto 2
Murfreesboro Central 7, Marshall Co. 4
Columbia Acad. 2, Middle Tenn. Chr. 1
Christ Presbyterian Acad. 5, Battle Ground Acad. 3
Grace Chr. 19, Zion Chr. 1

Softball
Lawrence Co. 6, Lincoln Co. 2
Mt. Pleasant 7, Culleoka 0
Richland 10, Santa Fe 0
Waverly 12, East Hickman 2
Spring Hill 6, Franklin 3
Stewart Co. 8, Hickman Co. 1
Loretto 15, Collinwood 5
Forrest 13, Giles Co. 3
Perry Co. 5, Frank Hughes 1
Community 13, Murfreesboro Central 8
Nolensville 6, Marshall Co. 0
Summertown 11, Wayne Co. 0
Columbia Acad. 13, Battle Ground Acad. 0
Zion Chr. 16, Grace Chr. 6

Wednesday schedule
Baseball
Coffee Co. at Lawrence Co.*, 4 p.m.
Columbia Central at Shelbyville*, 5 p.m.

Softball
Columbia Acad. at Zion Chr.*, 3:30 p.m.
Columbia Central at Tullahoma*, 6 p.m.

Roundup: Baseball, softball, soccer, tennis recaps

Baseball

Columbia Central 10, Shelbyville 6: The host Lions overcame Shelbyville’s four runs in the top of the first inning with eight in the bottom, keyed by Konnor Bowden’s two-run home run, and put veteran coach Mark Pickle within one victory of his 500th. Nick Butler led the 11-hit offensive attack, going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI. Sam Pate added a pair of hits.

Columbia Acad. 2, Middle Tenn. Chr. 1: Bryant Beranek threw a six-hitter, striking out 11, and tripled home the game-tying and eventual winning runs in the fourth inning as CA earned a split of its series following the Bulldogs’ loss Monday in Murfreesboro. The Cougars broke on top with a third-inning run, but Beranek’s drive to deep center scored courtesy runner Drew Butt and Damon Toombs. Kavares Tears, forced out of Monday’s loss with a first-inning ankle injury, started and went 0-for-1 with a pair of walks.

Mt. Pleasant 6, Hampshire 0: The Tigers broke open a scoreless affair with six runs in the bottom of the fifth, with Kobe Dowell doubling home a pair of runs and Gavin Whitehead adding a two-run base hit in the rally. Ryan Clark had two hits for Mt. Pleasant and struck out seven in five innings. Hayden Holt worked two hitless innings to close the contest out. Cameryn Bass, Errette Delk and Payden Seamen each had hits for the Hawks.

Summertown 3, Loretto 2: Drake Blackwood scored the gamewinning run on a Caleb Davis wild pitch in the top of the seventh, after Davis tied the game with a two-run double in the fifth. The Mustangs were unable to do further damage against Eagles starter Cory Francis, who struck out 11 in the complete game victory. Gavin Burleson had two hits for Summertown, as he and Grayson Burleson each drove in a run early.

Spring Hill 6, Dickson Co. 0: Luka Boylan threw five shutout innings, striking out six, and Dawson Hargrove and Jackson Marbet each had three hits to pace the Raider offense.

Summit 4, Centennial 0: Parker Dean went the distance for the Spartans, scattering three hits with a pair of strikeouts in the victory. Cameron Lee went 2-for-3 to lead the way offensively.

Coffee Co. 6, Lawrence Co. 2: The visiting Wildcats fell behind early, but cut into the deficit with a two-run fourth. Luke Nichols and Luke Mattox each had two hits for Lawrence County in the loss.

Softball

Zion Chr. 16, Grace Chr. 6: Becca Hazard’s hot tear continued Tuesday, as she went for the cycle and finished 5-for-5 with a couple of homers and seven RBI. Five Lady Eagles had multi-hit efforts, with Isabella Cecil going 4-for-4 and Peyton White 3-for-3. Kyndall Danarovich struck out eight in six innings to earn the victory in the circle.

Mt. Pleasant 7, Culleoka 0: Shelby McNeal had three hits and Addison Holt, Abigail Workman and Eden Wood each added two for the Lady Tigers, with Katie Thomason blanking the hosts on seven hits. McKenzie Stutts had a pair of hits to lead the Lady Warriors.

Spring Hill 6, Franklin 3: Kat Carter struck out 10 over five innings and drove in a pair of runs in a four-run fourth inning. Stephanie Williams also had two hits, with D’Naijah Wade scoring twice in the Lady Raiders’ win.

Summit 4, Dickson Co. 3: Morgan Woodside walked it off, singling with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run. Elena Escobar struck out five in the complete game win, giving up four hits. Dixie Corbin led the Lady Spartan offense with three hits.

Boys soccer

Columbia Central 2, Franklin Co. 0: The Lions stayed unbeaten on the year as Victor Ramirez and Brewer Wall each scored goals – Ramirez putting the visitors on the scoreboard just before intermission and Wall adding an insurance score inside the final minute of the contest.

Tennis

Columbia Acad. girls 6, Grace Chr. 1: Anna Claire Butt and Hallie Butterfield led the way for the Lady Bulldogs, each picking up singles victories and teaming for a doubles win.

Grace Chr. boys 4, Columbia Acad. 3: Aaron Sullivan, Hayes Lewis and Nathan Thomas turned in singles wins.

Courtesy photos by Buffy Holt, Matthew White

Smith sidelined early as Richland downs Santa Fe

By Maurice Patton

LYNNVILLE – Annette Edwards was considerably more concerned with the start of Richland’s District 10-A matchup Tuesday against visiting Santa Fe than with the finish.

Fielding a two-out popup in the opening inning, Lady Raider senior shortstop Deanna Smith and leftfielder Rachel Rich bumped into each other. Smith held on for the inning-ending catch, but fell to the ground and stayed down for a few moments before being helped off the field with an apparent injury to her right knee.

Smith left the game, missing the offensive fireworks as Richland scored in its first three-at-bats and grabbed a 10-0, five-inning win over the Lady Wildcats.

“That’s going to be bad, if she doesn’t get to play,” Edwards said after her team improved to 8-8 overall (2-0 10-A). “She’s a great leader. She speaks up. Her leadership (is important). Hopefully it’s not as bad as …”

In Smith’s absence, sophomore Maggie White entered the lineup – and for at least one game, the Lady Raiders didn’t miss a beat, scoring in each of their first three at-bats. White was in the middle of everything offensively, drawing two walks along with an RBI single in a five-run third inning and crossing the plate three times.

“Maggie made me look good putting her out there,” Edwards said.

Injury aside, Edwards was more pleased with her team’s performance Tuesday than the day before, when they dropped a 9-3 decision at Collinwood.

“We had five hits and scored three runs to start – and we died after that,” she said. “I told them, we’d better run-rule this team.”

Richland had six hits for the game and took advantage of three Santa Fe errors, all in the third inning. Allie Garner led the way with a pair of doubles, scoring twice and driving in three runs.

Santa Fe (0-7, 0-3), meanwhile, had runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings but couldn’t convert in either case. From there, the Lady Wildcats managed just two baserunners over the final three frames.

“You see ’10-0’, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it was 1-0 if we couldn’t push runs across,” Santa Fe coach Seth Woodard said. “We’re pushing too hard. We’re not being selective enough. We’re hitting pitches they want us to hit instead of what we want to hit. That’s my fault. We’ve not been able to practice. We need to talk a little more about our approach at the plate.

“There’s a big difference in going in confident you’re going to get a hit, and hoping you’re going to get a hit.”

Elise Adkison and Maddie Woodard were responsible for Santa Fe’s two hits off Brooklyn Reed, who struck out five in the shutout victory. Chloé Verlaine, an exchange student from Belgium, reached on a successful bunt attempt to lead off the fifth for the visitors, but was stranded at third base as the game ended.

“We’re still playing with our lineup, trying to find that right combination,” Woodard said. “Hopefully by tournament time we’ll be a little more competitive.

“The only thing I know to do is show up and keep working.”

Richland 10, Santa Fe 0 (5 inn.)

S 000 00 – 0 2 3
R 145 0x – 10 6 3

Maddie Woodard, Rachel Dodson (3) and Lexi McEwen. Brooklyn Reed, Ava Shrader (5) and Gray Teegarden. W: Reed. L: Woodard.

Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports

Eagles ‘turn tide’, Mustangs lose pair in rivalry renewal

By Maurice Patton

SUMMERTOWN – Zac Curtis made his Loretto/Summertown baseball rivalry debut Monday night.

The first-year Mustang coach didn’t stick around for the end, though, as he and Loretto first baseman Josh Porter were ejected in the sixth inning of the host Eagles’ eventual 9-2 District 12-A victory.

It’s anticipated that both will likely miss the next two games – including Tuesday’s homefield matchup against Summertown.

“We’re sitting there, the guy (Gavin Burleson) hits a home run, me and Coach (Toby) Dunn are talking about how we’re going to face them (Tuesday) night,” Loretto assistant David Weathers said. “We throw a wild pitch; I thought it was just a wild pitch. We hit (Skylar) Trousdale. As he’s going to first, he’s saying something to Zac. The umpire comes over and throws out first baseman out and our (coach) out. I guess they thought it was intentional.

“The crazy thing was, they’re running down the first-base line barking at Zac. The emotions of the game, the rivalry – it’s one of those things.”

Summertown coach Jason Burleson concurred with Weathers’ assessment of the history between the two teams.

“It gets chippy every game. It’s like this every game,” he said after the Eagles moved to 12-2 (7-0). “You just go and get ready for the next one.”

By the time Gavin Burleson hit his first homer of the season – a solo shot over the batter’s eye, which stands more than 20 feet high in center field – with one out in the sixth, the hosts had the contest well in hand. The Eagles scored two runs in the bottom of the first and two more in the bottom of the third, then added a four-run fifth to chase Loretto starter Connor Clemons.

Meanwhile, Grant Burleson was rolling through the Mustang batting order, striking out 14 over six innings and allowing just four hits.

“We knew they were good,” Weathers said. “Especially 1 through 6 (in the order) – really good. We made some pitches at times and at times when you miss against those guys in the middle of the plate, they’re going to hit it. Grant did a good job. He’s one of the best pitchers probably in Middle Tennessee. We didn’t play our best game. That’s how you get beat 9-2.”

Loretto (9-8, 6-1) had a chance to break on top from the start, as Caleb Davis doubled and Garrett Fisher reached on a bunt single to open the game against Grant Burleson. After Fisher stole second base, Burleson came back with two strikeouts, a walk to load the bases, and a strikeout with the out recorded at home plate to squelch the threat.

“We were lucky to get out of the first,” Grant Burleson said. “I got a little worried, but I worked through it and got out of it. As long as we could score a couple of runs early, I felt like we were going to be alright.”

Drake Blackwood and Gavin Burleson – who tripled prior to his homer — each went 3-for-4 to lead Summertown offensively, with Grayson Burleson and Cory Francis each driving in a pair of runs.

“We’ve got some offense,” Jason Burleson said. “Sometimes it takes a few innings to get going, but we’ve had pretty good offense all year long.”

Despite the decisive win, the coach wasn’t ready to declare – as an Eagles fan did – that “the tide is turning” in the Lawrence County rivalry.

“I don’t know about all that,” Jason Burleson said. “We’ve always won quite a few ballgames, until they had a certain group come through, and they were good. We had a hard time beating them

“I’m not saying the tide’s turning. We knew were in for a dogfight. They’ve got a lot of history the last four or five years. We feel like we’ve got a good ballclub this year, too.”

Summertown 9, Loretto 2

L 000 101 0 – 2 5 0
S 202 041 x – 9 11 1

Connor Clemons, Kade Lay (5) and Clint Seymore. Grant Burleson, Gavin Burleson (8) and Lane Burleson. W: Gr. Burleson. L: Clemons. HR: Summertown – Gv. Burleson.

Photos by Rob Fleming / SM-Tn Sports

Roundup: Baseball and softball recaps

Baseball

Middle Tennessee Chr. 5, Columbia Acad. 1: Middle Tennessee Christian was able to rough up Kavares Tears early, and held on for a win in Division II-A District 3 play. Tanner Ham had a pair of hits and scored a run for the Bulldogs in the only bright spot offensively in the game. Landon Prentice struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs — none earned — on three hits.

Mt. Pleasant 11, Hampshire 2: The Tigers plated six runs in the fourth inning to break open a 1-0 game at Hampshire on Monday. The Tigers got a 2-run single from Gaven Whitehead, RBI singles from Ryan Clark and Codell Gilliam, as well as doubles to score a run from Hayden Holt and Kobe Dowell in the inning. For Hampshire, Jed Page took the loss on the bump, but had an RBI on 2-of-3 hitting at the plate. Blake Morrow and Kennon Anderson each had hits for the Hawks. Whitehead was afforded the win, going five innings and giving up one run on three hits, striking out eight.

Spring Hill 5, Dickson Co. 2: Dawson Hargrove tossed a ‘Maddux’ on Monday, going the distance and throwing just 86 pitches. He struck out 12 and walked none in the win. Jackson Marbet led the Raiders on offense, going 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the fifth to give his team some insurance after Brantly Whitwell scored on a passed ball during Marbet’s at-bat to take the lead.

Summit 7, Centennial 5: Summit jumped out to a big lead, scoring five runs in the second inning, but had to hang on late as the Cougars got four in the fifth and another in the sixth. Brady Hendrix came on in relief following the fifth run and struck out four, including the final out with the bases loaded for Centennial. Alex Runk led the Spartans, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Six other Summit hitters added a hit each.

Grace Chr. 14, Zion Chr. 0: Luke Gill tossed a no-hitter on Monday to down Zion Christian in league play. Gill went five innings and struck out nine in the win. Blake Barton had five RBIs for the Lions, including a grand slam in a nine-run third inning.

Softball

Summit 4, Ravenwood 2: Morgan Woodside’s third-inning triple scored a pair of runs that would prove to be the difference for the Spartan women on Monday. Claudette Runk added a single later that would score Woodside for some insurance. That three-run third was the biggest blemish in an otherwise solid outing from Raptors’ pitcher Avery Weissmar. She sat down 14 Spartans on strikes, including all but one of the Summit starting nine at least once. Lily Kate Richards got the win in the circle, going seven full and giving up two runs on seven hits and five strikeouts.

Columbia Acad. 1, Ardmore (Ala.) 0: Averi Slaughter was dominant in the circle for the Lady ‘Dawgs. She struck out eight and scattered three hits in the win. A scoreless game saw its only run in the sixth on a Myleah Hardy single to score Karli Quillin. Hardy was 2-for-3 in the game to lead the Bulldogs.

Zion Chr. 12, Culleoka 0: A fourth-inning walk was all that stood between Ashleia Coble and a perfect game Monday. She threw a no-hitter, striking out 12 in a five-inning win over the host Lady Warriors. Becca Hazard continued her hot streak, going 4-for-4, including a home run and three doubles. Coble added three RBIs on two hits as well.

Southern Middle Tennessee Sports