Bonine: 11 schools dealing with COVID issues as football, volleyball begins

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Tad Gormley nighttime

The impact of COVID-19 as Louisiana high school football and volleyball teams begin facing other schools is there, but it’s minimal, LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine said Friday.

“Eleven schools have notified us they aren’t going to participate in their scrimmage and they’re potentially going to withdraw from their jamboree, and that’s either football or volleyball,” Bonine said Friday night to Ken Trahan on All Access on NASH ICON 106.1 FM. “We have well over 360 schools participating in those sports, you’re talking a small percentage.”

As the 2021-22 school year begins, the sport schedules are on time, unlike a year ago, when the football season was delayed until the first week of October and volleyball began shortly after Labor Day.

“We’ve all learned from (2020-21),” Bonine said. “There’s going to be some hurdles (in continuing to deal with COVID-19). Everybody’s trained. They all know what they have to do. We’re going to get this done like we did last year.”

After one year in Natchitoches, the Prep Classic will return to the Caesars Superdome the second weekend of December, but only with five non-select championship games. Last year, the four select championships were part of a four-day event the week after Christmas at Northwestern State’s Turpin Stadium.

Bonine said he is in communication with Brother Martin principal and executive committee member Ryan Gallagher about the select championships, but to his knowledge, no day or location has been set for football, basketball, baseball or softball championships on the select side.

“No one has reached out to me,” Bonine said. “Last year, we looped (select schools) in to (hold championships) at the same venue. We have a September executive committee meeting, and that may be a conversation, but no one has reached out to me for an agenda item about doing what we did a year ago.”

Video conferencing enabled the LHSAA and the multitude of “other acronyms,” as Bonine called the other statewide organizations related to the management of elementary and secondary schools, to continue to move in the same direction over the last 16 months.

The start of the 2021-22 school term kicks off Bonine’s seventh full year at the helm of the LHSAA after holding a similar position in Nevada.

“In general, eight out of the 10 issues I deal with in Louisiana, I dealt with in Nevada,” Bonine said. “We all deal with the same stuff. There’s only one of us in (each) state that does that.

“The challenges are a little bit different, but whenever it comes down to it, they for the most part have their hearts in the right spot.”

The priority, first and foremost, remains on the student-athlete.

“It always has been with this administration,” Bonine said. “It has been with this association for 100 years.

“Academics are the most important part of what we do, but athletics keeps those kids engaged, as do co-curricular activities.”

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Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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