Athletes at Jamestown High School wanted a chance to compete and they got that chance this fall, even amidst a global pandemic.
"It wasn't perfect," said Jim Roaldson, athletic director at JHS. "Everybody could probably say something positive or negative about it, but our intent from the very beginning was to make sure that our students had the opportunity to compete."
With the conclusion of the 2020 state volleyball tournament held last month in Fargo, JHS athletics -- with the exception of football -- successfully completed the fall. The Blue Jay football team was forced to forfeit its season in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs after several team members developed COVID-19 symptoms.
"Overall, I think it went very well," Roaldson said. "Our coaching staff and our students that were involved did a lot of things that were necessary to assure that we had a chance to complete a season and move into a postseason.
"If you take a look at the numbers from the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA), I believe 93% of all teams throughout the state were able to complete their schedule without any kind of an adjustment or cancellations due to COVID."
JHS volleyball, girls swimming, boys tennis, cross country and girls golf all competed at state tournaments to wrap up the fall. The JHS boys soccer season ended with a loss to Bismarck Legacy in a West Region tournament state-qualifying game.
Having successfully navigated the first wave of the 2020-21 sports season, Roaldson said the activities department will use many of the same COVID-19 protocols heading into the winter months.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum postponed all winter sports practices to the end of November and pushed back the start of the season to after Dec. 14. As a result, Roaldson has had to revamp the Blue Jay basketball, hockey, wrestling, boys swimming and gymnastics schedules.
"We haven't lost a ton of dates at this point," Roaldson said. "We're able to fit just about our entire conference schedule in the time frame we have. What's going to be difficult now is if anything gets weathered out or if teams get shut down because of COVID, it's going to be less likely that we'll have a make-up (date) available."
Jamestown's boys and girls hockey teams are both slated to play a 16-game schedule, with the boys playing each West Region team twice. Girls hockey, which plays a statewide schedule, will not have the opportunity to play each team twice, as the Jays are only scheduled to play Fargo North/South and West Fargo United once.
The Blue Jay basketball teams are planning to play each team in the WDA twice, which equals out to a 20-game schedule. Roaldson said if a game gets canceled due to COVID or inclement weather, the other will likely be counted as a two-point match in the standings.
In a sport like wrestling, Roaldson said the athletics department eliminated pretty much all tournaments and are only scheduling duals and triangulars. The Blue Jay wrestlers are slated to see about half as many matches as they do in a normal season. Roaldson acknowledged the setup is not ideal for the athletes but added that the goal of still letting athletes compete can be accomplished with the new setup.
"Our coaches are prepared for this winter season," Roaldson said. "The big thing for them is having a fall season and learning from the things done well and the things that we can improve upon."
As of Dec. 3, Roaldson has rearranged the basketball, hockey and gymnastics schedules and is still working to readjust the wrestling and swimming dates.
Roaldson said the winter season will continue to be more of a challenge as all sports are moved to indoor venues, which makes social distancing more difficult. Roaldson said the JHS athletics department will likely restrict fan attendance to a maximum of 50 spectators per home event. Concrete numbers will depend on the facility size.
Roaldson said fans should also prepare for the possibility of not being able to attend contests away from Jamestown.
"We ask people to be patient, understanding and able to give grace," Roaldson said. "Things are going to change and they could change at any given time. Everybody's doing their best. We just have to understand that and work together to try to continue to give our students opportunities and that's all anybody's asking for."