Although it doesn’t affect her Stillwater High softball team, Karie Linsenmeyer isn’t happy with the new, state-wide dead period.
The SHS softball coach has issues with the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association summertime dead period, which lasts nine days beginning lasts Saturday and ending Sunday.
The new rule states: “Secondary-level students enrolled or pre-enrolled at a member school may not use any member school’s athletic facilities during the dead period in connection with any athletic activity governed by the OSSAA. Member school coaches, assistant coaches and sponsors may not have any contact with secondary-level enrolled or pre-enrolled students in that member school in any athletic activity governed by the OSSAA for the purpose of coaching, training, or instructing.”
Violations of the policy will result in the coach or sponsor being suspended from the first half of the regular season in that athletic activity, according to the OSSAA release.
“The kids need the opportunity to feel like it’s a summer,” SHS athletic director and football coach Tucker Barnard said. “They need some down time where they can go be kids and not have to be just grinding.
“The short answer is I was in favor of it,” Barnard said. “I think it’s a good thing. It’s good to bring some commonality to it with everybody in the state all taking a break at the same time.”
Linsenmeyer said the dead period doesn’t affect her SHS team, which begins playing preseason games the first week of August.
“As far as Stillwater High goes, we take this time off anyway as far as team stuff,” Linsenmeyer said. “I always give them off a good couple weeks before we start practicing, as far as mandatory anything, and we’ve done that for years.”
The Lady Pioneers are able to begin practice July 15, along with cross country, fall baseball and volleyball teams around the state. However, Linsenmeyer said her team might start their fall season the following week, because the majority of her players will be involved in travel ball national tournaments.
The travel ball teams are the reason for Linsenmeyer’s issues with the dead period policy. She’s in Colorado this week for a travel ball tournament.
“I can’t even coach my daughter this week,” Linsenmeyer said. “They told me I could not coach my own kid. I asked if I could even go out and hit with her, and they said nope, because she’ll be in ninth grade this year.”
She added that her frustration comes not being able to coach her travel ball team, which her daughter plays on, during this dead period.
“I could go along with the idea of it, but I don’t know if it reflects upon all of the sports,” Linsenmeyer said. “This is the big time for travel ball teams. We’re currently at one of the biggest tournaments in the nation that’s held every year. So, if we go to this tournament every year, I can’t coach.
“I have to sit in stands and let someone else coach a team that I built, because of this dead week. There is a stipulation that if it’s a national tournament, but they’re saying this isn’t a national tournament. I didn’t fight it too much, because I didn’t want to draw attention to it. It just really handcuffs certain situations.”
Linsenmeyer continued by saying she wasn’t sure where the idea for the dead period came from. She guesses it was probably for summer football workouts. She says it doesn’t work for softball, because a lot of them play travel ball and this is an important time to get recruited by colleges.
She added that her team will have to keep going to the tournament if it continues to be accepted, because of the opportunities for the players.
“It kind of sucks for our situation, because it’s my organization,” Linsenmeyer said. “This is my team and now I have to sit in the stands.”
“I don’t think they should be able to tell me what I can do with my daughter. That’s another thing.”
Unfortunately, Linsenmeyer doesn’t see the rule changes. She admits she’ll have to adjust to the rule, despite being frustrated by it.
Barnard said that’s what happened in Arkansas when he coached there. He said a dead period policy was added during that time and it also drew some ire from coaches when it was created.
With the new OSSAA rule, he believes it’s a good thing, and he doubts everyone will completely agree with it.
“There’s really not a time that you could do it that everybody would agree upon,” Barnard said. “That’s why I think people are a little upset about not being able to choose their own week or nine or 10 days.”
“I don’t think there are that many coaches that are really frustrated by it right now. I think over time, I think they’ll realize it is a pretty good thing. It’s good for them, too. Even as a coach, you can take some time off, too. I think it’s a good idea, it’s the right idea.”