New AD working to create safe fall season amid COVID

Maricopa High School Athletic Director Evelyn Wynn. Photo by Victor Moreno

Evelyn Wynn had a wild introduction to Maricopa High School sports.

The new athletic director arrived as COVID-19 was changing sports schedules into question marks and casting a shadow across the fall season.

Arizona Interscholastic Association had to revise its expectations weekly and sometimes more often. Tentative schedules were created and then thrown out the window. Coaches started and stopped camps and practice.

In August, AIA announced it would try a “staggered” start to the fall season. Conference committees hustled to create new schedules.

While awaiting new schedules, Wynn was organizing practice schedules.

“In the meantime, we have been implementing a phased return-to-play schedule during the off-season in preparation for competition,” she said.

Wynn has been an athletic director 10 years, from Montoursville Area School District in Pennsylvania to Globe High School last year.

“While scheduling is a huge part of this career path, we are having to navigate it much differently during this time,” she said. “It has been helpful to use my network in the athletic community to stay connected as we all move toward the common goal of providing athletic competition for our student-athletes.”

MHS Fall Sports
Boys’ golf – Coach Donald Gordon
Girls’ golf – Coach Brad Chamberlain
Cross country – Coach Corey Nelson
Swimming – Coach Laura Logan
Volleyball – Coach Theresa Abernathy
Football – Coach Brandon Harris
Cheer – Coach Kaitlyn Hendricks

Golf started first with competition on Aug. 25 and championships in late October. Cross country starts Sept. 9, with championships in mid-November. The swim team’s first competition is mid-September. Volleyball will be allowed to start competing Sept. 21. Football is last out of the chute, with first games allowed Sept. 30 heading to championships in mid-December.

“We really looked at a phased approach based on whether they were a high-risk type sport or a medium-risk sport or low risk,” said AIA Executive Director David Hines. “Mainly that came around with contact.”

MHS has been preparing athletic facilities as advised by AIA. Athletes and coaches were pre-screened for the virus before workouts started.

“All student-athletes are required to complete a short self-reporting survey and have a temperature check as well,” Wynn said. “Facilities are disinfected by our custodial staff before and after each workout in order to maintain a safe practice space for our athletes.”

She said there will be some overlap of the seasons. AIA is looking at possible delays of the winter and then spring seasons to have lesser impact on multi-sport athletes.

Despite coronavirus and its restrictions, Wynn said student interest in sports remains consistent.

“Our students are still passionate about competing in athletics, spending time with friends, discovering their talents, and everything that encompasses a typical high school experience,” she said. “We are glad that with safety modifications, we are still able to offer athletics to our students. Doing so provides a familiar outlet and helps to create a sense of stability in our current environment.”

For MHS this fall, sports are scattered across divisions and conferences. Football remains in 5A, but in the East region. Volleyball is in the 6A Desert Southwest. Swimming is in Division I. Cross country is DI Southeast. Golf is DI Yuma.

This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa magazine.