The wait is over and the decision has been made, there will be summer high school sports in Iowa.

Wednesday morning, Gov. Kim Reynolds gave the go-ahead for school activities to be underway for the summer in the state of Iowa. Within hours of that announcement, both the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls Athletic Union came together and gave the official nod for baseball and softball campaigns in 2020. As noted by the Department of Education, team organized practices for baseball and softball will commence on June 1 unless “circumstances dictate a change in the date.” Games are allowed to begin on June 15.

Even with the announcement that many in the baseball and softball worlds rejoiced about, there are still several hurdles to jump en route to competition and practices. Both the IHSAA and the IGHSAU boards met and approved the 2020 seasons under the Department of Education guidelines.

“The guidelines are laid out by the Department of Education and the Department of Public health will enable us to safely move forward with a softball season this summer,” said IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger in a statement released jointly by both organizations. “We are grateful for their leadership and support.”

IHSAA executive director Tom Keating echoed the statements of Berger.

“We trust that our administrators, coaches, umpires, and fans will responsibly follow the guidelines in place to keep themselves and each other safe,” said Keating. “This is terrific news and is a step toward getting our student-athletes reconnected to the activities that mean so much to them.”

It was a decision that excited fans, players, and coaches alike including ADM head baseball coach Jason Book.

“This is extremely exciting,” began Book. “We’ve been waiting for a decision to be able to play for what feels like a long time. Truly excited for the opportunity to get to spend the summer around a great bunch of players and coaches.”

Just as excited as coach Book was, he was equally surprised, an emotion undoubtedly felt by many other coaches across the state.

“I was totally caught off guard,” said Book. “I didn’t expect it to happen today (Wednesday). I thought best case scenario we might get something Friday. I was both surprised and happy that it happened so quickly.”

Of the several ideas about what might take place, should a season go on, the idea of limiting fans was a shared thought among many circles. Following the Department of Education guidelines, there will be fans permitted at games but schools must limit the use of bleachers for fans. The guidelines also include the usage of dugouts for games only and not to be used during practices. Parents also must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players after practice. Social distancing guidelines of being six feet apart must be in practice for all players, coaches, staff, and fans. Shared equipment must be sanitized before and after each game and practice.

Of course, anybody with symptoms related to COVID-19 will not be permitted to attend games. The guidelines also ban the spitting of sunflower seeds and there will be no concessions permitted at events. Catch the full list of guidelines for practices and games here.

The news officially means that high school sports in Iowa will be active for the first time since the end of the boys’ state basketball tournament in mid-March. It also marks the only high school softball and baseball presence in the country as Iowa is the only state where baseball and softball seasons occur in the summer. For those sports that are not in season, coach-athlete contact in-person is suspended until July 1.

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