Olathe opts to resume fall sports practices, possible decision on games next week

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OLATHE, Kan. — The Kansas State High School Activities Association approved an alternate season for fall sports on Friday. 

If districts choose, they’re now allowed to push fall sports to the spring. 

But on Friday, Olathe Public Schools announced it would resume fall activity practices, beginning as soon as Monday. Competition could start back up if the board approves it at a meeting next Thursday. 

It’s welcome news for some athletes and parents who have rallied for change. But they say the fight isn’t over.

May 6, 2019, is a date the Connell family will never forget. Olathe West baseball player Brennan Connell collapsed on the pitcher’s mound in cardiac arrest.

“My son coded, and they saved his life,” said Brennan’s dad, Brian Connell.

Brian credits sports with his son being alive and well today. 

“The coaches knew how to take care of him, and the kids were praying for him,” Connell said.

The past several weeks, as sports around the country have been threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian joined the cries of parents in the metro, demanding students still be allowed to play. 

So he’s thrilled Olathe Public Schools will now allow sports and activities to continue, starting Monday.

“The kids want desperately to be with their teammates,” Connell said. “That’s why today’s announcement they can re-engage in activities is critical. Even if they cancel the fall programs for these kids, the coaches are advocating — they know those kids are safer with them.”

He said that’s because coaches know their players well enough to spot when something’s wrong and pull them out to keep themselves and others safe. 

Connell insists sports can be safe from COVID-10 with precautions. His daughter played club volleyball with hundreds of girls this summer without a single known coronavirus case.

“They wore their masks the whole time, her whole team. Now that took 14 of them because the effort in a mask meant more, so the coach was awesome and rotated the girls,” Connell said.

Now he’s just hoping all Johnson County and neighboring school districts will continue to keep fall sports seasons and activities in tact, so every kids gets a chance to play.

So far, other districts in Johnson County have not issued a formal response to KSHSAA’s alternate season plans and how they intend to move forward with sports and other school activities.

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