LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Weeks away from the start of school, coaches, athletes and parents are still looking to Governor Mike DeWine for a clear answer about whether athletes participating in fall sports can suit up and compete.
“We're still working on the orders in regard to sports,” DeWine said. “We'll have that shortly. It won't be too much longer.”
DeWine announced Tuesday the percentage of COVID-19 cases in young people has grown substantially since the pandemic began.
When questioned about high school contact sports, DeWine kept his answers vague.
Coach Tom Lombardo of St. Edward High School in Lakewood is holding daily football practices as normal with the hopes that DeWine doesn’t call a last-minute audible.
“We’re practicing and preparing like we’re going to play and waiting for the clearance that it’s gonna happen,” Lombardo said.
DeWine said coaches and players can expect an announcement regarding competition soon and that he is not taking into consideration NCAA decisions.
“The basic facts don't change because of what the Big Ten has decided to do,” DeWine said.
However, Lombardo said DeWine doesn’t have much time left to stand in the pocket before ultimately making a decision.
“Kind of just all waiting for the go-ahead that the Governor says that they take the mandate of testing away and we’re allowed to play against other opponents,” Lombaro said.
The head coach of seven years added his players have been lifting weights and practicing since June 3 while following CDC protocols with no known infection on the team.
At this time, guidelines are unclear for how the positive case of an athlete would be handled by the Cuyahoga Co. Health Dept.
“We’re not sure on that. That’s a health department call,” Lombardo said. “And we’re kind of researching if that happens, is it one kid? Is it basically the kids he’s been around or in close contact with for a certain number of time? Or is it the whole team?”
Lombardo said the risk of competing during a pandemic is much like other health risks contact sports pose.
“Just like there’s a risk to playing a contact sport,” Lombardo said. “Or their mental well-being for the time they put in and taking the chance away for a kid to get a college scholarship. Go on to college. Self-esteem.”
Pending an announcement from Governor DeWine stating otherwise, St. Ed’s is scheduled to play its first game the weekend of August 28.