High School Sports Mash-Up

Athletic directors weave football, soccer, volleyball between winter and spring

After a fall without football and other activities in northern Door County, many high school athletes will juggle multiple sports this winter and spring.

The Gibraltar District School Board last week approved proceeding with a staggered schedule of starting dates for “fall sports” and spring sports, just as winter seasons are wrapping up. Lauren Ward, a board member and former Gibraltar volleyball coach, said seasons could overlap for some students because soccer is set for March 22-April 6, and baseball, softball and track will start April 19. She hopes the weather doesn’t cause too many cancellations.

“We’re hoping it will be a light-snow spring,” Ward said.

Gibraltar Athletic Director Peggy Tanck said the practice and game schedule could get hectic, but the gymnasium-use schedule became complicated this year, too. 

Football practice will start the week of March 8 for Gibraltar. That’s the weekend after the state basketball tournament. Boys basketball regionals will start Feb. 16, and the regional tournament for Wisconsin girls hoops will get going Feb. 9. Volleyball will start Feb. 22, the week before the state basketball finals for girls. And golf will start in late April.

For eight-player football, Sevastopol Athletic Director Brooke Tanck said practices won’t start at Institute until Feb. 15. The state allowed schools that decided to split or have “alternate” seasons to play as many as five football games in the early spring. Sevastopol could schedule only four football games and must travel to Chequamegon’s Park Falls High, west of Minocqua, for a Saturday game to reopen the season April 11.

Brooke Tanck said she anticipated no playoffs of any kind in football, but school and Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) officials are discussing some sort of postseason competition for volleyball.

One of the strangest scheduling scenarios will come to northern Door County in early spring: the Gibraltar boys will play Sevastopol in a doubleheader in baseball on the last Thursday in April, and then teams from the two schools will clash in football 48 hours later.

Coaches realize some student-athletes will participate in sports that have overlapping seasons, and one of those activities will need to take priority if there are contests in both sports on the same day, Sevastopol’s Tanck said. Students will also have some extra decisions to make if they’re involved on a Sevastopol team in one sport while also participating in the Gibraltar/Sevastopol soccer program or the Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol swimming co-op.

Southern Door completed its football season in the playoffs in the fall, but Sturgeon Bay did not field a football team. This winter, Sturgeon Bay will participate in eight-player football as it did in 2019, and it has games with Sevastopol and Gibraltar. Because of the lower-than-normal numbers, Sturgeon Bay’s varsity squad will also participate in eight-player football next fall, but it will have an 11-player JV team, Athletic Director Todd Meikle said. He noted that there’s a good-sized freshman and sophomore class this year, so Sturgeon Bay should return to full strength for football in the Packerland Conference in fall 2022.

Sturgeon Bay has three football games in Ashwaubenon at Capital Credit Union Park (home of the Green Bay Booyah) and will face off March 26, April 1 and April 9 against Chequamegon, Oakfield and Northeastern Wisconsin Lutheran, respectively. The Clippers will travel to Gibraltar April 16 before hosting Sevastopol at Sturgeon Bay for Homecoming/Senior Night on April 23. 

In volleyball, the Sturgeon Bay girls will reopen their season at home March 2 against Green Bay West.

Meikle and other athletic directors are working to give student-athletes a chance to participate in their favorite sports. Sturgeon Bay has no cross-country meets, but runners will have an opportunity to compete in a regionalized meet for schools that did not complete a fall season.

Southern Door Athletic Director Korey Mallien does not have as difficult of a juggling act now as some of his peers do.

“We’re very fortunate to have gotten in our fall seasons on time and in good health,” Mallien said, referring to all of Southern Door’s fall sports except volleyball, which was moved to late winter. 

The WIAA scheduled the week of April 12 for some sort of postseason for volleyball, so the girls should have time for a smooth transition before April 19 and the beginning of softball, track or the coed golf team.

Southern Door swimmers will participate with the Door United team based in Sturgeon Bay, and Mallien said some of the swimmers have a chance of qualifying for state from next week’s swimming sectionals.

Also, wrestling regionals are coming up this weekend, and Southern Door clinched the conference title during its last dual meet with a 42-40 win over Kewanee. Mallien said the wrestling team members have done a great job of preparing for matches, wearing masks and adhering to virus-prevention measures. Mallien said coaches told him Southern Door could get as many as seven wrestlers through to sectionals if they do well at the regional this week.

Washington Island did not compete in basketball and is waiting for guidance for its students who participate in baseball and softball through a co-op with Gibraltar. 

Washington Island’s only fall sport was trap shooting through the U.S. Clay Target League. The team shoots at the sportsman’s club, and the school submits its scores online. Washington Island was placed into a conference this year with high school teams including Fall River, Drummond and Lancaster High, Cassville and Chilton. Tara DeJardin finished second among conference girls and Julia Valentincic third. The island students will also participate in a spring trap league.