Like the fall sports season, the winter sports season will be one unlike any other the young athletes of Galion City Schools have ever experienced.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Tigers athletic teams will play in front of greatly reduced crowds and be forced to observe protocols and procedures imposed by the Ohio Department of Health.
Superintendent Jennifer Allerding said Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted have made it clear to local school officials during recent meetings that this is a critical time for Ohio.
“They’re asking us, asking me, asking you, asking our community to please do anything and everything that we can to give our winter athletes a season, to try to keep our kids in school right now,” Allerding said. “That is a legitimate conversation. The next two weeks are critical at the state level to just make sure that we’re able to continue to operate. … Please continue to wear your masks. Please continue to social distance.”
Galion High School Athletic Director Kyle Baughn conducted an informational session for parents and athletes via Facebook Live on Monday evening to discuss the situation and address questions from the public. The first question he fielded was in regard to the number of spectators who would be allowed in the stands at athletic events.
“Very limited fans, especially at away venues,” Baughn told the online audience. “We learned during the fall seasons how challenging the limited 15% capacity is, and, unfortunately, many winter venues will be forced to offer much less seating. … We just had a call with the governor’s office today and they are not going to allow us to exceed 300 spectators in our gym.”
Baughn said DeWine and Husted clearly stated that “for winter inside events their expectation would be family-only.”
“The COVID-19 challenges are not fair or fun for anyone,” Baughn said. “The reduced crowd size is challenging and not what any of us want. Galion City Schools continues to be committed to best serving our kids during these unprecedented times.”
Baughn outlined the estimated number of ticket vouchers that will be available for each athlete per sport at home events. He said boys basketball players will receive three to four ticket vouchers each for home games and two for away games.
Girls basketball players will receive four ticket vouchers each for home games and two for away games.
Cheerleaders will be allotted four vouchers each for home games. No cheerleaders are allowed at away games.
Baughn said no spectators will be allowed at home swim meets held at the Galion Community Center YMCA.
“There’s just not enough room in (the YMCA’s pool area) to safely house fans,” Baughn said. “We expect (tickets) to be extremely limited at away events. The more teams at a venue, the less likely that tickets are going to be sold.”
In regard to wrestling, Baughn said he hopes to be able offer two ticket vouchers to each wrestler participating in a dual or tri meet but noted that wrestling faces the same issue that swimming does with multiple teams at invitational meets.
“We are not expecting many fans, if any,” Baughn said.
Two vouchers per athlete will be allotted for boys and girls home bowling events, Baughn said.
“We are hoping for at least two vouchers for the away matches, but again it depends on each bowling alley’s limitations,” he stated.
Middle School Athletic Director Isaac Keinath said all middle school sporting events will be played in the high school gymnasium. He said four vouchers per player will be allotted for home games for the boys and girls basketball and cheerleading teams. He said he will find out about ticket information for away events at a meeting next week.
Keinath said currently the middle school wrestling schedule is limited. There will be no home wrestling meets this season and several invitational meets have been canceled due to the pandemic.
“We’ve got some (wrestling) events planned. We’re trying to add more,” Keinath said. “A lot of schools are trying to add duals and tris, we’re going to try to hop into a few of those, we hope, to get a good schedule.”
Baughn noted that no spectators will be allowed at any scrimmages or youth sports sessions during the winter sports season.
No passes, including senior citizen and Mid Ohio Athletic Conference lifetime passes, are being accepted for winter sports. All tickets for home events will cost $5 each, regardless of age. Spectators must have a voucher in hand when they pay for their ticket. Baughn said all seating for home events is reserved.
Galion City Schools is partnering with WMFD-TV to provide live broadcasts of varsity basketball games during the 2020-2021 season, Baughn said. Individual game broadcasts can be purchased for $10 each. Galion has its own channel at wmfdsports.com. Links will also be available on Galion City Schools social media sites.