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In 2018, a mandated four-day moratorium will be enacted by SDHSAA

The Christmas break may look a little different for South Dakota high school coaches and athletes in two years. After establishing a seven-day summer moratorium, or break, which bans any school-sponsored or affiliated activity July 1 through July...

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The Christmas break may look a little different for South Dakota high school coaches and athletes in two years.

After establishing a seven-day summer moratorium, or break, which bans any school-sponsored or affiliated activity July 1 through July 7, the South Dakota High School Activities Association approved the same type of moratorium during the winter break.

According to the SDHSAA Board of Directors minutes from Aug. 25, 2016, there will be a mandatory four day break on the December dates of 23, 24, 25 and 26 each year effective for the 2018-19 school year.

For many area teams currently on Christmas break, the new winter moratorium rule won't create too many issues and three Mitchell-area coaches told The Daily Republic they supported the decision.

"I'm in favor of that. I think it's good to mandate a break for everybody," said Mount Vernon/Plankinton boys basketball head coach Eric Denning, who added his team took Dec. 23-26 off this year. "Let the kids and coaches have time with their families, it's not a bad move at all."

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Denning said the winter break moratorium went hand-in-hand with the SDHSAA loosening up the summer contact rules for high school coaches and teams

Coaches are now able to work with their kids on an unrestricted basis, except for the seven-day summer moratorium, during the summer period, which is defined as the end of the state golf tournaments until July 31.

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.

Corsica-Stickney boys basketball head coach Mike Tuschen, who has coached for 32 years, said he's in favor of the four-day winter break.

"I've always felt and that not just the athletes, but everybody in our program should reflect on church and family. It's a time to free up and be away from basketball," Tuschen said. "I think it's a great thing."

Tuschen said his team took four days off over Christmas break, but said he typically gives his team five days off. This year, the Jaguars face Class B No. 1 Warner in the Parkston Classic on Thursday, so the team took a day to prepare.

The four-day break will affect all SDHSAA sanctioned sports such as boys and girls basketball, gymnastics, and wrestling.

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Parkston wrestling head coach James Boehmer also said he was in favor of the winter moratorium.

"Some days off never hurt," Boehmer said. "Kids need the rest. Especially in wrestling, kids need a break this time of year and enjoy their family and enjoy their life a little bit."

Boehmer added his team has typically competed in the Floyd Farrand tournament, held over Christmas break at Sioux Falls Lincoln. He said if other schools and teams adapt to the new rules when scheduling events, there won't be any issues.

"These kids can have 50 matches a year, they're starting the week before Thanksgiving so I'm always looking for where we can rest," Boehmer said. "I'll know for sure we are resting these four days in the future."

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