DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Hoops, soccer move toward another season

 Athletes from Xavier Prep’s basketball and soccer teams are cautiously treading down a path leading to a regular season that has been pushed back to the first week of January by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The AIA had made the changes due to the resurgence of the Covid 19 virus with the hopes that increasing numbers of people contracting the virus will level off and begin to turn toward a safer direction.

Teams originally were to begin preseason preparations in November, with both basketball and soccer having their first games on Dec. 1. Now, the season will begin the week of Jan. 5, 2021. The AIA has not released the revamped schedules as of this writing.

Basketball had seven games erased at least temporarily, as well as its annual appearance in the annual Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Phoenix Arcadia from Dec. 21-23. Soccer had four matches cast aside, and the Gators were not allowed to participate in the annual Excalibur Tournament in Orange County, Calif., per the AIA directive of no out-of-state competitions.

According to the AIA, the last permissible day of winter sports competition (including wrestling) will be Feb. 19, which includes any play-in contests (qualifying for state tournaments).

Teams also must adhere to stringent safety protocols put in place by the AIA, similar to what was done in volleyball and other fall sports. And no spectators will be allowed to attend games until the AIA deems the conditions are such that people can watch safely in person. This will be done through constant communication with schools and school districts.

Basketball tryouts were scheduled to begin on Monday, Nov. 30 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and continue on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the Activity Center and adjoining Vestar Hall. The first day of official practices will be Thursday, Dec. 3 and continue on a regular basis throughout the rest of the month.

For soccer, freshman tryouts are due to be held from 3:15-4:15 p.m. on Dec. 1 and Petznick Field, followed by the upperclassmen from 4:30-6:30 p.m. A full tryout session for all players will be held Dec. 2 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Regular practices will begin in the days following the tryouts.

The AIA said that schools must have a minimum of 14 days of practice before any competition can begin.

All athletes trying out must wear a mask and have completed a screening from Head Athletic Trainer Laurie White and undergo a daily symptom check from the coaches.

Parents cannot attend the tryouts, and must pick up their athletes in the school parking lot along the north side of campus.

In related news, the first date of permissible practice for spring sports teams has officially been pushed back one week from Feb. 8, 2021 to Feb. 15, 2021. The AIA hopes that the championships for all spring sports will remain as scheduled on its calendar. The state’s high school sports governing body had been forced to stop spring sports in 2020 due to the onset of the virus.

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