Rebuilding America: Our series dives into our community's efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signs of an approaching autumn are distinct in the world of sports — a stadium full of fans awaiting Friday night football games, the pounding of a volleyball over the net, the diving header or reverse bicycle kick on the soccer pitch, cross country runners awaiting the starting gun and many more.


While the end of the winter season and most of the spring season was a wash this year, and with the summer season delayed at the moment, hopes are pinned on the fall.


Under Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines, Newton High School will be able to begin summer conditioning programs June 1, but under specific conditions.


“Our plan is … starting June 1, we’ll do outside activities only,” NHS activities director Brian Becker said. “We are going to start with high school only. That first week, that’s what we’ll do. The second week, we’ll try to get into the weight room as well as outdoor activities. Both of those scenarios, our group size limit is 10 to stay within state guidelines. Starting with June 15, which is when Kansas will be in Phase III of their reopening plan, we’ll maybe expand into groups of 30 inside and outside. At that time, we’ll integrate our seventh- and eighth-grade kids into their summer activities as well.”


The top priority of the summer programs will be physical conditioning. With the loss of spring sports and the closure of such facilities as the YMCA, the Newton Activity Center and privately operated workout centers, the concern is to get athletes back in shape and try to mitigate the risk of injuries.


“Under the KSHSAA plan, you can’t have competition or other things until kids have at least 10 days of conditioning,” Becker said. “One of the things, we will make sure is each individual kid will have 10 days of conditioning before they start doing sport-specific activities. No matter what, we’ll follow social distancing guidelines, we’ll be doing extra things to sanitize and clean before and after each day. We’re going to take every necessary precaution. Check kids coming in to make sure they’re screened and not ill before coming in. If they are, they wouldn’t be allowed in that day. Just taking extra precautions, follow those guidelines and slowly getting into a routine beginning June 1.”


There could be a disparity between athletes who may have workout equipment at home and those who don’t.


“We know some kids have been doing things to be active,” Becker said. “Some have been able to be able to run and condition. That’s why we’re emphasizing conditioning and why it’s part of KSHSAA’s plan as well.”


The start of fall sports at the high school level in Kansas won’t be determined until mid-July.


“We have not been able to get into conversations about fall because, my understanding is, from the state department of education we won’t know what the fall is going to look like until mid-July. The only thing we’re really doing right now is the plans for our summer stuff. … Everything is a bit of a moving target, and we will have to adjust along the way. We’ll adjust as we need to based on the guidelines issued by the state and by the Harvey County Health Department to make sure we’re following all of those expectations.”


Becker said losing the spring sports, as well as the ticket sales that go with them, has negatively affected his budget.


“Based on our current model, it had a significant impact on the athletic budget,” Becker said. “I normally end my year with a positive balance. I will probably be taking my balance all the way down to zero for the first time since I’ve been in Newton. Not having spring sport revenues, ticket gates, entry fees has had a significant impact. The reality is if fall has restrictions with sports, if we have to limit spectators or not have spectators, that will have an impact on school budgets significantly.”


More content is available at www.usatoday.com/rebuilding-america.