On Dec. 16, an ominous tweet appeared on the Twitter timeline of Cambridge-Isanti boys basketball coach Mike McDonald.
The tweet featured a photo that said, “Havoc is coming” and added the date of Jan. 4.
With everything that coaches, players – and people around the state – have endured since the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down life as they knew it last March, the arrival of “Havoc” did not sound promising.
“There has been a lot of havoc in the last few months, hasn’t there?” the veteran coach admitted.
The good news is that “Havoc” symbolizes the Bluejackets’ style of play — a pressing, high-pressure full-court defensive style that leads to fast-break offense — not some menacing twist in the COVID-19 saga.
The better news? The tweet actually signaled a bit of good cheer, noting that McDonald and his team would be allowed to begin practicing their form of havoc starting Monday, Jan. 4, in preparation for a winter sports season.
“We’ve been organizing practices for this team since March, we got to work together a little bit in the summer, and we held a few open gyms in November,” McDonald said. “But it’s been a really long time since we’ve been able to be together, to practice together. That’s what makes this so exciting.”
High school teams in all winter sports – basketball, dance, gymnastics, hockey, boys swimming and diving, and wrestling – saw their practices delayed in late November, when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz put a one-month pause on amateur sports practices and games around the state.
On Dec. 16, Walz lifted the ban, and soon after the Minnesota State High School League announced that in-person practices for winter sports and activities could begin on Monday, Jan. 4.
Recently the MSHSL announced that games could be played as soon as Thursday, Jan. 14, for all sports except gymnastics, which may begin on Thursday, Jan. 21.
That gives coaches around the state less than two weeks to prepare their teams for the season.
“I guess we’ll be dealing with a new kind of havoc, since we’ll be dealing with a lot of new faces,” said McDonald, who lost six seniors from last season’s Class 3A Section 7 champions. “The havoc may be making sure our new guys are in the right place and doing the right things.
“But I look forward to tryouts, and I look forward to the practices as we get this season going.”