KEARNS, Utah – Water polo has been a dead stop in the state of Utah ever since COVID-19 shut down the spring high school season after just a week’s worth of games. Over the summer it has been a hodgepodge of what teams could practice depending on the county and/or city restrictions and there were zero games played.
There seems to be some good news on the horizon as the annual Kearns Fall Water Polo League is scheduled to begin on Aug. 28 and run through Halloween. This is the traditional fall club league for the state of Utah and it includes multiple divisions from splash ball up to 18-and-under. Game days are usually on Friday night then all day Saturday using two pools.
Last year, there were 50 teams and over 600 athletes, including a Boise, Idaho-based team that came to a few weekends, and the regular participant Southern Utah Water Polo Club which is over a three-hour drive from the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center.
Officials have been notified of the season and very likely the teams that typically play have been alerted as well. Perusing through a number of club websites in the states, there have been some that have practiced sporadically this summer, began fall workouts and also have registration set up for the fall league.
There is no word on what teams are going to join this upcoming fall season since there are some that can not even practice yet due to using city or county facilities.
There are going to be some extra precautions taken to ensure safety of the athletes, spectators, and officials.
A lot are the typical guidelines like temperature checks and making sure you do not attend if you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms are noted. Below are a few specific details about how games will be played. (Full set of guidelines are here).
- Symptom checks, including temperature, must be completed on all athletes and coaches prior to every game. Each team is expected to record this information and keep on file until at least three weeks following the end of the league.
- Face coverings are required at all times with the following exceptions:
- Athletes while in the pool, although recommended while in the bench area.
- Coaches while actively coaching and when six feet physical distancing is not possible.
- Referees while actively refereeing during a game.
- Do not have team water bottles and do not share water bottles, towels, etc.
- If possible, athletes should arrive in swim suit and depart without changing.
- Coaches should keep pre- and post-game team meetings brief, preferably 10 minutes or less, and face coverings must be worn by athletes and coaches during team meetings.
- Teams must bring their own warm up balls plus caps, and are not allowed to be shared with other clubs.
- Spectators will be limited to up to two per player. This may be reduced depending on the venue or deemed necessary by the League Director.
- Rosters will be limited to 16 athletes so that not more than 9 athletes are on the bench.
- Teams will not change sides during a game.
In addition to these guidelines, there will be more time allotted in between games to have fewer people in the facility and game locations will be spread out across the Salt Lake-area to accommodate the number of teams that will be playing.