RED WING — The high school fall sports season, at least for now, is set to have practices begin as soon as Aug. 10. However, an Aug. 4 Minnesota State High School League meeting expected to determine the fall season looms.
If the MSHSL determines it’s safe for schools to begin some or all sports on time, that won’t leave much time for Red Wing to fill two head coaching vacancies.
The Wingers will be looking to fill the head coaching void left by Jesse Nelson when the Red Wing School Board approved his resignation at its July 20 meeting.
Nelson, who coached cross-country, girls’ basketball and track and field, had been with the district since August 2000.
“I’m extremely proud of the tremendous accomplishments of the kids and teams I’ve coached,” Nelson wrote in a text message. “I am very grateful for the support I’ve received, especially recently.”
The other fall sports head coaching vacancy is for girls’ tennis after Drew Olinger stepped down this past year.
At the earliest, cross-country and girls’ tennis will begin practice Aug. 17. If that timetable stands, there are just over two weeks to get the newly hired coaches prepared. While the cross-country vacancy has been available for just over a week, the head girls’ tennis job has been open since November 2019.
“We’ve had some possibilities for girls’ tennis but no real applicants to this point,” Red Wing Activities Director Paul Hartmann said. “We’re actively looking and working through some things right now but we hope to fill it within the next week or so.”
Last year, the Wingers girls’ tennis team fell to Lakeville North in the first round of the Section 1AA playoffs. In cross-country, Grace Johnson was the lone Red Wing representative at the Class AA state meet.
Will fall sports even happen?
Whether the season will happen on time, or at all, is up for debate at this point. After the Aug. 4, MSHSL meeting, athletic directors should have a good idea what stipulations they will need to work around.
“The state high school league in the past has developed a number of different task forces and they are being tasked with coming up with a plan,” Hartmann said.
Neighboring states could offer a template on what Minnesota prep sports fans can expect.
In Wisconsin, low-risk sports such as girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, cross-country, and swimming and diving will begin Aug. 17, but high-risk sports such as football, volleyball and soccer were pushed back to Sept. 7.
Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota have all decided to resume athletic activities on the regular schedule.
Hartmann said that any speculation on what the MSHSL has planned for fall sports at this point is purely that, speculation.
“I think the main thing is that we’re kind of taking our time and doing it based on research,” he said. “The hard thing will be when that decision is made on Aug. 4, we are slated to start football on the 10th and the rest of our activities on the 17th. So it will come fast and furious if we are a go.”