Shikles deals with pandemic and rescheduling games

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

Now days it’s not easy being an athletic director at a high school.

With the pandemic canceling pretty much the spring season in 2020, now athletic directors are scurrying to find teams and open dates to get in the rest of the 2021 basketball season.

For Boonville Athletic Director Chris Shikles, who has been in this profession for the last 18 years-13 at Boonville-the 2020-21 season has been one of the most trying times in his tenure.

“They don't train for that,” Shikles said. “There's no pandemic 101 that you take in college that teaches you how to deal with a pandemic, it was uncharted territory for a lot of people, including school administrators, and we just did the best we could to keep our kids safe and keep it normal, as much as we could.”

In addition to scheduling and re-scheduling games, Shikles is also in charge of busing for not only athletics but also other activities along with getting officials to officiate games.

However, the No. 1 priority for not only Shikles but any athletic director, is whether it’s safe for the students. Shikles said that’s the ultimate decision maker.

Shikles said there is also so many moving parts that go into rescheduling an event. He said a lot of people just don’t see that there are so many details.

“You’ve got busing, you’ve got officials and you have your workers at the events,” Shikles said. 

While scheduling is usually done two years in advance, Shikles said the first priority anytime you have a canceled event is to get your conference games in for that season. He said it comes to a point in the season where there are games that you have to play and then are games that become secondary.

“We’re to the point right now in the season (at least for winter) that we’ve got to get our conference games in before non-conference,” Shikles said. “It’s not unusual to work weekends or nights just so you can reschedule games  and find officials.”

Finding the number of games to fill a sport whether it’s fall, winter or spring is also taxing at times.

Shikles said MSHSAA also determines how many games are played in that particular sport. In football, the limit on the number a team can play during the regular season is nine before beginning the district playoffs. Meanwhile, in basketball, schools get a maximum of four tournaments along with conference and non-conference games. 

“MSHSAA sets a maximum game number and so every year, the goal is to schedule as many games as MSHSAA allows you to play,” Shikles said. “Now in a year like we’ve had in 2020,  that didn't happen for everybody because of the pandemic and now the weather dictates whether or not you play the maximum number of games allowed or not.”

Being in the center of the state and close to Columbia and Jefferson City also has its perks.

Shikles said location really benefits Boonville as far as scheduling goes. He said Boonville is able to reach out and schedule a lot of opponents that some people can’t schedule. 

Nonetheless, the bottom line is the safety of the student-athletes. 

Shikles said the kids have adjusted well to everything.

“They’re resilient and I think 2020 has only made them stronger and more adaptable,” Shikles said. “They’re just hungry to play and practice, so they’ve really adjusted well to these crazy times.”

Whether its rain, snow or a pandemic to deal with, Shikles said being an athletic director hasn’t changed that much in the last 18 years. He said the competition level changes.

"Some years you want to play bigger schools and better competition, but sometimes it’s not feasible for your program. “It’s just nice to have that flexibility and being able to schedule different schools," Shikles said.