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Youth, high school sports come to a halt

MARSHALL — As many sports teams around the state are wrapping up their regular season schedule, getting their postseason underway or preparing for the winter season, they will all see a significant impact from the most recent executive orders by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

In an announcement Wednesday regarding new COVID-19 restrictions, Walz issued Executive Order 20-99, which will put youth and adult sports on a four-week pause and impact both indoor and outdoor sports. The restrictions begin on Friday at midnight and will last through Dec. 18.

Marshall activities director Bruce Remme said it wasn’t a complete surprise that it was heading in the direction of a pause and they just need to continue to be flexible with what comes their way.

“Certainly, we sensed that something was coming by just looking at the state-wide case numbers and the direction the schools have gone. We were not totally surprised that there was going to be a pause; while we are disappointed for the kids who are in-season or about to start in the next few weeks, we understand that this is where things are at with the state,” Remme said. “We just need to learn to be flexible and make the most of the opportunities that we do have left.”

Both volleyball and football will be able to compete today and Friday with their scheduled games. Many teams are moving games up, such as the next round of the section football tournament, in order to get them in before the shutdown takes effect over the weekend.

Marshall volleyball will have two home matches in as many days, including playing for the Big South Conference championship against New Ulm on Friday night at 6 p.m. Marshall football’s Section 2AAAA semifinal match against Jordan that was originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon will now be played Friday at 7 p.m. at Mattke Field on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University for their final game of the season.

“It was a very active day to say the least,” Remme said on the rescheduling of games. “There was lots of speculation with just not knowing what the governor would say and we had many conversations with the conferences about if it says this, what will be the impact on different sports. Once we got the order, we went ahead and made the reschedules happen so that we could give these kids as many opportunities to compete and bring closure to their season. We just appreciate the cooperation of everyone involved making these changes on the fly.”

Marshall volleyball coach Dan Westby added they talked with their players during practice about what was going to potentially happen and knows it’s disappointing to see the season come to an abrupt end.

“We took some time in practice to talk to our kids and how there was a lot of speculation going on with our season. The feelings that we had at that point were that we were going to be put on pause,” Westby said. “It’s hard to tell and get a good read on what the kids are feeling because they’ve already been through so much since March. It’s certainly disappointing and it would’ve been nice to have the section tournament but we’ll get through this and play our final two matches at home and I know the kids will do their best.”

The winter sports season was supposed to begin in December, with teams starting practices over the next few weeks, but will now have to wait until mid-December to start. Westby also serves as the girls basketball coach for Marshall and said he hasn’t really thought about the extra time they’ll have before their season gets underway.

“I haven’t really thought about that. We’ve been fortunate the past couple of seasons to end our volleyball season at the state tournament and then we have a couple of weeks to decompress before basketball starts,” Westby said. “Now we’ll have more time to get ready and we need to remain optimistic about having our season be a little more ‘normal’ and get a regular season, a section and possibly a state tournament in that sport. Hopefully we’ll be able to start that season on time.”

Remme added that when the winter season does take place, they need to make the most of each opportunity like they did during the fall.

“We need to embrace every opportunity we do have and we’re looking forward to the winter season whenever it does happen and we’ll use the same approach as we did with the fall and continue to make the most of each opportunity we get,” Remme said.

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