SAN ANTONIO — If the University Interscholastic League gets the green light from state officials, high school athletes will be allowed to start limited in-person summer strength and conditioning workouts on June 8.
The UIL, which governs extracurricular activities for the state’s public schools, informed athletic directors and coaches of the decision in a memo Tuesday morning.
Texas high school athletics have been shut down since mid-March, when the outbreak of the coronavirus led to the closing of campuses across the state.
The UIL canceled the spring sports season on April 17, after Gov. Greg Abbott shut down all schools for the remainder of the academic year because of the pandemic.
“UIL is aware of Governor Abbott’s May 18 announcement and is actively working with appropriate state officials to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning and marching band activities on June 8, 2020,” the UIL said in a statement Tuesday. “As soon as the details of that plan are finalized, UIL will release them to schools to allow time to plan and prepare for bringing students back to campus for these purposes.”
The UIL’s memo Tuesday was welcome news for San Antonio athletic directors and coaches.
“It’s very promising,” San Antonio ISD athletic director Todd Howey said. “The UIL came out today and made that statement and they gave us a date. That kind of gives us some hope because that summer conditioning program is very important to us.
“It helps us stay in contact with kids. We keep them busy. We keep them fed. We get them bigger, faster and stronger. To not have that, it was going to be awful hard to keep these kids engaged in summer strength and conditioning via Zoom (conferences). We’re prepared to do that, absolutely. We are going to start June 1 via Zoom anyway. We’re ready to go.”
While saying he’s glad that the UIL has targeted a date for the start of summer workouts, Northside ISD athletic director Stan Laing stressed that it’s going to be critical that schools follow the UIL’s guidelines closely.
“I think it’s a given that we’re all excited about the opportunity, anticipating the opportunity, to get back and start working with our kids again,” Laing said. “However – and I know that the June 8th date is what they’ve indicated – I know that they’re working on guidelines right now. They should be out to us by the end of the week or next week for us to look at.
“We need to review those guidelines very closely and make sure that we can live up to those guidelines. Here’s the thing: We can’t mess up our summer programming, because I think that’s going to lay the groundwork for this fall. When I say programming, I mean strength and conditioning, summer school, and those schools that are having graduations.
“I think we all need to proceed very cautiously, and make sure that we’re doing a great job of following whatever those guidelines are,” Laing said. “I think that will have an impact going into the fall. I certainly don’t want to jeopardize us having extracurricular activities in the fall by jumping into something too quickly in the summer.”
New Johnson football coach Mark Soto said that targeting a date to start summer workouts is only the first step in a process to get athletes back on campus.
"The one thing is, the UIL said this, but the mayor has to say something, the superintendent has to say something, the ADs have to say something and then the campus administrators have to say something," Soto said. "We're excited that we've got a date to start planning.
"What it's going to look like, though, is probably the next big question. What is this summer conditioning going to look like? What are we going to have to do. I think that's what all the coaches are waiting for. Of course, there's excitement to see the kids and get them out here.
"But what's it going to look like and how are we going to adapt as coaches, which we will do, because that's what coaches do," Soto said. "We adapt and we overcome."
The two major high school governing bodies for private schools – the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools and the Southwest Preparatory Conference – canceled their 2019-20 athletic activities after the UIL did the same.
The 2020 UIL football season is scheduled to start on Thursday, Aug. 27.