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Inaugural SDHSAA summer moratorium underway

For busy high school athletes, there's little rest in the summertime.

But a new moratorium set by the South Dakota High School Activities Association hopes to give students and coaches more time to spend with their families to start July.

Friday marked the official start of a newly mandated moratorium, or break, on school-sanctioned activities by the SDHSAA, which was passed by the Board of Directors in January. From Friday to Thursday, athletes are not to have any contact with coaches for any activity.

The moratorium is one part of a change with SDHSAA regulations for summer activities.

Under the rule, SDHSAA regulations now allow coaches to work with their kids on an unrestricted basis during the summer period. Coaches are limited to "four team contacts," which is activity occurring on- or off-school grounds that involves a team camp, scrimmage, league or an event that involves competition or participation with multiple teams from different schools.

Individual workouts and open gyms don't count towards the list of regulated summer activities. The rule change is intended to allow coaches more freedom to work with athletes and teams.

The summer time period is defined as the end of the state golf meets through July 31.

For Mitchell High School boys basketball head coach Erik Skoglund, the summer months are full of opportunities for the team to get better. He said members of the basketball team participate in scheduled weightlifting with MHS football head coach Kent VanOverschelde and assistant football coach Eric Witte, along with team camps and open gyms.

"Our summer is filled with Kernel basketball activities and workouts," Skoglund said. "The summertime is something you think as an extremely long period of time, but June and July fly by. We are utilizing everything we can along with our (four) team contacts. We try to utilize the time as efficiently as possible."

Skoglund described the one-week moratorium as a "give and take" between coaches and the SDHSAA.

"It was a give and take with allowing coaches to be able to coach a little more during June and taking the one week off was a give and take," Skoglund said. "We sure hope it works out best for coaching staffs and student athletes."

The new rule had a direct impact on the MHS wrestling team, which was in Nebraska for a team camp, but had to return a day early to meet the rule. Despite the inconvenience it created for the Kernel wrestlers, head coach Travis Carpenter supported the SDHSAA rule. Carpenter said the camp was scheduled before the rule was put in place, but now coaches will need to be more aware of the dates in the future.

"I think it's good. It's summertime. These kids are busy and they need time to have fun," Carpenter said.

The rule doesn't affect non-SDHSAA sanctioned sports, such as baseball or club soccer.

Along with the implementation of the summer moratorium, a winter moratorium was discussed by the SDHSAA Calendar Committee and passed by the SDHSAA Board of Directors 9-0 on first reading at the board's final 2015-16 school year meeting on June 9. (The second and final approval will be voted upon Aug. 25.) The proposed winter moratorium would last five days and must include Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. The winter moratorium won't take effect until the 2018-2019 school year.

Carpenter said he'd like the winter moratorium to remain within each school district rather than being enforced statewide.

"In all reality, it should be up to each school and up to each program," Carpenter said. "We take five days off over Christmas. Wrestling is a long season. It runs from November to the end of February or beginning of March. With everything that goes along with it, it's nice to have a little reprieve from banging on each other. I really think that should be an individual program decision."

The winter moratorium could affect the schedules of holiday basketball classics and wrestling meets. The Mike Miller Classic, which Mitchell has participated in since its inception in 2010, is regularly held over the Christmas break. Last year, the Classic started on Dec. 28, but in past years has started as early as Dec. 27.

Skoglund said he hasn't heard about the winter moratorium and said it would possibly conflict with the Kernels participation in the Classic, but added the team takes extra time off during the holiday.

"What we attempt to do over the Christmas break is to take some days off," Skoglund said. "We are very aware of Christmas break and travel needed. We make sure the student athletes know, if they're having Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house a ways away, they can take that off."

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