Gov. Pete Ricketts will allow contact sports in the state to resume on July 1.
That means the Nebraska Shrine Bowl can be played July 11 in Kearney. Also, high school football, basketball and soccer players and wrestlers can join the rest of their classmates in summer workouts.
Jay Bellar, the executive director of the Nebraska School Activities Association, said the NSAA will provide schools with updated guidelines as soon as it can.
Shrine Bowl executive director Dave MacDonald, who heard about the July 1 opening from a board member, called it a “pretty exciting day.”
“Everything is a go," he said.
With outdoor gatherings able to have a maximum of 10,000 with 75% capacity starting July 1, MacDonald said he anticipates the Shrine game will sell tickets to the public. Previously, attendance was going to be limited to family members.
MacDonald said the Shrine Bowl committee will decide how many tickets will be available while observing social distancing guidelines for UNK’s 5,200-seat Cope Stadium.
Millard West football coach Kirk Peterson said he’s “guardedly optimistic” about restarting his sport.
“We have to make sure we don’t mess this up between now and July 1," Peterson said. “We’ve been aware of the guidelines and it’s even more important now so we don’t go backward.”
It was only last week that the NSAA allowed high schools to hold open gyms for basketball, football, soccer and wrestling with restrictions.
Activity through June 30 will be limited to individual skills and workouts. There can no physical contact with others, no sharing of equipment and no grouping of students. Open gym supervisors are required to enforce the restrictions.
On Thursday, the NSAA will let high schools participate in camps, clinics and summer leagues in all sanctioned activities except basketball, football, soccer and wrestling. Thursday also is the first day for youth baseball and softball games in the state.
Bellevue West football coach Mike Huffman said his players enjoyed Monday expanding their activity beyond conditioning.
“They got to do drills," he said. “We have to remember these are 14- to 18-year-olds. It can be hard for them to completely understand what’s going on.”