A path for youth sports to return to play is now visible after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday afternoon he was ceasing a halt on youth sports activities on Monday, Jan. 4.

In-person practices, at least, will be permitted to begin Jan. 4, but there was no word on an official timetable for the commencement of official competition this winter.

At the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors meeting Dec. 3, Jan. 4 was one of the start dates for practice the league said it was planning for.

Under that model, all teams start practice Jan. 4, with the first games for most sports allowed to begin Jan. 14 after 10 days of practice. Gymnastics, under the MSHSL model, will require two and a half weeks of practice to provide more time to ensure routines can be performed safely in competitions.

Big 9 Conference activities directors were planning on a Jan. 4 start date for practices, and started scheduling games last week with the assumption they were able to begin competition Jan. 14.

“None of these dates are in stone,” Owatonna Activities Director Marc Achterkirch said at the time.

Those start dates, of course, are dependent on the approvals of local school boards to allow activities to resume in-person contact. At the moment, winter sports teams are meeting and practicing virtually.

Faribault Public Schools' Incident Command Center team is meeting Friday to discuss Walz's announcement and how the school district will proceed.

"I'm feeling optimistic about the announcement and the trends in our current local data, however, recognize we still have some work to do," Faribault Activities Director Keith Badger said. "Through the meetings with the ICC Team, we will have a decision regarding Faribault Public Schools athletics and activities in the near future."

Achterkirch said he is sending information to athletes and their families regarding the resumption of Owatonna activities late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Superintendents from Big 9 Conference school districts are also expected to meet this week to ensure consistency across the conference in terms of plans to start practices and competitions.

Reach Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved. 

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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