SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sylacauga High School’s athletics department has released its fall sports plan as the school system navigates the challenges COVID-19 continues to present.
Fall sports for Sylacauga High School include football and volleyball, but also incorporate Aggie cheerleaders and the marching band.
SHS’s leadership has organized its extensive plans in three distinct categories; football home game procedures, volleyball home game procedures and traveling procedures for road games.
“The health and safety of our student athletes, employees and the public at large are paramount. These changes are far from what we are used to at Sylacauga High School, but for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete in the safest way possible, changes needed to be made,” said Bobby Hall, co-athletics director for Sylacauga High School. “We looked at recommendations from the Alabama Department of Health, and the guidelines issued by the Alabama High School Athletic Association when making these decisions.”
New protocols are headlined by adjustments to the home football game experience at Legion Stadium. These changes will be apparent when fans approach the gates. Legion Stadium will be limited to 50% capacity. 1,600 fans will be allowed in the home stands while 800 tickets will be available for opposing fans. (Schools are not allowed to use all available seats for home fans as mandated by the AHSAA.) All tickets will be pre-sold. Additionally, every fans’ temperature will be taken upon entry, and every spectator is required to wear a mask.
The Aggie Marching Band will be allowed on the field during pregame while abiding by social-distancing policy. The band will enter and exit the field at the 6th St. entrance. Cheerleaders will be allowed on the field during pregame to hold the breakthrough sign and run the team onto the field, but are required to wear masks while doing so. Cheerleaders will not be required to wear masks when cheering on the sidelines while socially distanced.
Other pregame changes include:
- Noticeable signage reminding fans to social distance and sanitize.
- Coaches and staff from visiting teams are required to use the road team press box only.
- Only prepackaged items will be sold in the concession stand.
- Boosters will be allowed to sell merchandising outside the stadium until the game starts.
- Only one team captain will represent the team at coin toss.
During the game:
- Fans are encouraged to sit only with those from their household.
- Cheerleaders will do touchdown push-ups from the end-zone.
- Cheerleaders will not host visiting cheerleaders during halftime.
- Only football players, coaches and officials will be allowed on the field.
The AHSAA has extended the players’ box on the sideline from 10-yard line to 10-yard line, allowing for additional distancing.
- Alma mater will be played from the stands. No one will be allowed on the field.
- Football players will not shake hands after the game.
- Football players will exit the locker room into the parking lot.
- Locker rooms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
Volleyball capacity is also reduced to 50%. 500 tickets total will be sold for the main gymnasium and 150 for the old gym. The team will not compete in tournaments with more than 10 teams. Much like football, signs will be posted reminding fans to wash hands and socially distance, concession stands are limited to prepackaged food, temperatures will be taken, masks will be worn, and locker rooms will be sanitized when matches are complete.
When the Aggies travel protocol is strict. Seats will be assigned on buses with two players per-seat. Teams will travel in uniform and will not change in host locker rooms or gymnasiums. Cheerleaders will travel if there is a designated area for the team to cheer, but not be allowed to cheer on the field.
The Aggie Marching Band will travel based on spacing and rules set by the home team. SHS points out many schools are not allowing visiting bands to perform on the field.
“These decisions were not easy to make, although many of the policies were already mandated by the AHSAA and the Alabama Department of Public Health,” said co-athletics director Debbie Barnett. “We have to do the best we can with the options presented to us. Bobby [Hall] and I, with the help of the school’s leadership team, were able to put together a plan that fits the guidelines. We hope this will allow our athletes to compete in the sports they love.”
Sylacauga football will open the season at home vs. Leeds on Friday, Aug. 21.