Fort Payne coaches react to AHSAA’s fall sports plan

FORT PAYNE — The AHSAA’s return-to-play plan answered a lot of questions regarding the fall sports season, namely whether or not there would be one and, if so, whether or not it would start on schedule.

As fall practices open for teams across the state this week, Fort Payne coaches were given a chance to digest the latest guidelines from the AHSAA and how it would impact their teams this fall.

For cross country, the AHSAA asked courses to be widened to six feet where feasible and encouraged teams to have qualifying races as early in the season as possible.

“With cross country being a non-contact sport, I was really anxious to see what modifications they would make, if any,” cross country coach Ashley Jackson said. “Widening the course to be at least six feet is really the only thing they modified. I was surprised that they didn't limit the number of athletes or teams that could compete in a meet. We go to several meets a season that will have over 500 athletes, if not more. 

“We won't host a meet this season, so I am curious to see how the meet directors of the ones we go to handle it.”

Jackson said she’s thankful the season has been greenlit, especially for her senior runners.

“These seniors have worked hard over the summer trying to prepare themselves for the upcoming season. I just hope and pray that they will get the chance to compete and are able to stay healthy the entire season,” she said.

A few major points the AHSAA’s plan made regarding football included the players’ box on each sideline be extended to the 10-yard line. The plan also said coaches and officials should wear face-coverings and players should wear them while on the sidelines.

“I think most of the decisions were expected,” football coach Chris Elmore said. “If we all do our part, I still believe we can make this a safe experience for everyone involved.”

Fort Payne’s first-year volleyball coach Justin Kisor said nothing would make him happier than getting to see his senior players compete in a healthy, full season.

“They have been so good for the program since I have been hired,” he said of his senior group.

The AHSAA’s plan said volleyball teams will not switch benches during matches and only coaches — not captains — will be present for pre-match meetings. The plan also encouraged teams to have area matches as early in the season as possible.

A list of rule modifications for all fall sports is available at

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