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He was hoping for a return to spring sports

Hack scheduled events for May, waiting for governor

SOLON– “They just want to know the answers we want to know,” Activities Director Casey Hack said of Solon students.
“Are we going to have a spring season? Are we going to get back to school? Are we going to have prom? Are we going to have graduation?”
Unfortunately, the answer to most of those questions is no.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the extension of a statewide closure to the end of the school year during a press conference April 17.
Up until that point, Hack was hoping to provide students with at least part of a spring sports season.
Now the best they can possibly look forward to is some sort of summer season.
“Our coaches are communicating with our kids as if the season’s going to start May 4,” he said the week before Reynolds’ announcement.
The May 4 date had aligned with an updated spring sports schedule announced by the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) April 6.
Under the revised calendar, track and field, golf, soccer and tennis would have started practice May 1 with the first competition May 4 (May 8 for soccer).
Hack was scheduling two to three soccer and matches per week in May, with the Denny Gruber Track and Field Invitational penciled in for Saturday, May 16.
Hack was grateful for even a chance to extend the spring season.
The IHSAA and IGHSAU have done a nice job trying to be transparent and answering questions, Hack said.
“The most important thing to me is, for all these spring athletes that we have, they’re giving them a chance,” he added.
Even in light of the governor’s decision to forego spring sports, it was better than canceling the seasons outright.
“It gives those kids some hope,” he said. “It gives us something to work toward.”
The attention now turns to summer activities. Reynolds is expected to make a decision about the resumption of school programs by June 1.
The Solon Community School District (SCSD) continues to preach social distancing to its students, encouraging them not to gather together to do workouts, Hack noted.
“But I think it is really important for these kids to get out, exercise and just prepare themselves physically and mentally for the sports season because we know that a lot of kids are struggling with the change of not having school and getting out of your routine,” he observed. “It’s just a different experience none of us have had.”
In his years as an activities director, the closest Hack came to dealing with a public emergency was a flood while he was serving Midland Community School District in Wyoming.
But that occurred in summer, and the impacted building wasn’t overly occupied, he said.
Hack, 35, came to the SCSD in June of 2018, along with his wife Courtney and three children– Kinley, Kamden and Kollyns.
A native of Clarence and Lowden, he earned his bachelor degree at Coe College in preK-12 education and obtained his master’s degree in educational leadership at Drake University.
District administration had been watching the COVID-19 outbreak unfold in the week heading into spring break, he said.
“We knew that this was going to be a possibility, that we’d maybe be out, but we never thought that it would be something that would extend this long and would really be a life-altering experience for all of us,” he noted.
With little local control, administration could only look to the state for guidance, he said.
“My approach has really been just to listen,” he said. “Not over-analyze everything. Because every day it seems like it’s an evolving situation.”
The IHSAA and IGHSAU have been sending out weekly memos on Friday after consulting with the governor’s office on Tuesday, Hack reported. Often, the Iowa Department of Education is asked to give guidance.
WaMaC activities directors meet online two to three times a week, he said, and individual directors conduct side conversations throughout the day.
With so many people asking the same questions, the regional group has been able to share information, he said.
“There’s just so many pieces that are working together,” he noted.
Hack has emailed and talked with his in-season coaches (track, soccer and golf) fairly frequently about reaching out to students and “letting them know we’re there for them and giving them some ideas of things they can do on their own.”
Solon’s girls had already participated in a couple of indoor track meets, and both boys and girls had been practicing for a month when the shutdown occurred, he said.
A virtual meeting with all coaches has been held to brainstorm activity ideas, and will likely continue weekly or bi-weekly, he added.
“Our coaches are fantastic,” Hack commented. “All of them are willing to do whatever they need to do to help those kids out. I really appreciate that.”
He also praised the administrative team for its response to the school closure.
“They’ve been fantastic,” he said. “What they’re rolling out for our kids is some good stuff and I’m just really happy to be a part of it.”
Hack has been working out of his office a few hours in the morning because it helps him feel more productive, but like many others, he’s spending the majority of time working from home.
When the associations announced the new spring schedule, it gave Hack and other activities directors something to work toward.
Typically, he said, they’d be mapping out winter sports for next year.
He thinks students are beginning to consider the bigger picture, trying to generate options for the summer.
High School Principal Zach Wigle and teacher Lauren Cannon do a great job with the building’s peer leaders, Hack said. A recent virtual meeting featured about 30 kids discussing ideas while staff listened to questions.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity for us to let these kids take a leadership stake and set some thing up and come up with ideas and bring those ideas to us,” he observed.
He said the district is “really doing the best we can to comfort them and let them know that we’re going to try and get them as much of their normalcy as we can because we know how important it is to them.”
Some students have sent out motivational tweets, he added.
“There’s been some good stuff coming out of this and I think that’s the opportunity this group of students is going to be able to have moving forward– something that no one else has really experienced,” he said.
He’s hoping they make the most of their opportunities working together.
“I think everybody’s going to come back to school and have a greater appreciation of what normalcy was or is,” he concluded.