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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

AIA board changes mind, allows winter teams to play

 Xavier Prep’s Gators and the rest of Arizona's winter sports teams are back in business !!

Less than a week after the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Excutive Board voted 5-4 to cancel the winter sports seasons due to Covid virus concerns, the board reconvened on Tuesday (Jan. 12) and reversed its decision by the same score 5-4, therefore allowing the teams to play as scheduled.

The AIA received a great deal of feedback after the vote, including athletes pleading their case outside the organization’s offices in north Phoenix.

Winter sports are basketball, soccer and boys’ and girls’ wrestling. Xavier does not participate in wrestling.

By AIA mandate, athletes must wear cloth face masks at all times, including soccer, which is played outside.

Only two parents or guardians per player will be allowed to attend games, with no others allowed, other than essential working personnel. Media will be allowed to cover games, but only will if approved by the home team’s athletic director.

Home teams also must account for social distancing. Steps also will be taken to sanitize the equipment.

“We followed all the volleyball protocols in the season, and we did it very well,’’ said Sr. Lynn Winsor, Xavier Athletic Director. “All of us will have to be diligent.

“We commend the coaches, athletes, parents and athletic trainers who made that all happen. We will continue to follow what is necessary to keep everyone safe. It can work.’’

Xavier basketball will play 15 games, soccer 11. Soccer will open its season on Jan. 19 with a home match against Phoenix South Mountain, and basketball will begin one night later, on Jan. 20, with a home game against Surprise Valley Vista.

Said AIA Executive Director David Hines: “This has been a very difficult decision for the Executive Board. They have been weighing the concerns of the medical community, including the AIA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, and the requests by our member schools. We all want winter sports to happen, but it must be done safely.’’

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