Nearly 30 months after the Covid pandemic brought high school sports in Florida to a sudden stop, a sense of normalcy is finally returning as Osceola Athletics Director Ryan Adams announced that Orange Belt Conference (OBC) Tournaments for team sports would return for the 2022-23 school year.
After Covid shutdown both athletics and the schools in the spring of 2021, sports came back in the fall of that year but traditional OBC Tournaments in team sports were eliminated in favor of round robin play, where each team was required to play each team in the county at least once with the best record used to determine the OBC Champion in those sports.
“We are very pleased to have our full slate of championships returning for this school year. The OBC championships allows the students to compete at a high level while preparing them for the upcoming district tournaments,” Osceola Athletics Director Ryan Adams shared with Positively Osceola about the upcoming sports season.
One OBC Team Tournament was held last spring, as the Orange Belt Conference held its first baseball tournament ever. Adams would later announce that traditional OBC tournaments would return for all team sports for the coming school year. Single-elimination, bracket style tournaments will be held for nine different sports; while individual tournaments would be contested for golf, weightlifting, track, wrestling, cheer and cross country.
During the coming school year, team sport tournaments will be held in girls’ volleyball (Host School: St.Cloud, Oct. 3-6), Girls’ Soccer (Harmony, Dec. 5-9), Boys Soccer (Gateway, Jan. 17-20), Girls’ Basketball
(St. Cloud, Jan. 17-20), Boys’ Basketball (Tohopekaliga, Jan. 23-27), Flag Football (Harmony, Mar. 27-31), Boys’ Volleyball (Celebration, Apr. 10-13), Softball (St. Cloud, Apr. 10-14), Baseball (Poinciana, TBA).
The news was met with approval my many of the county’s coaches.
“It’s good for our sport on several levels,” Osceola volleyball coach Carrie Palmi said. “First competing for a championship in a tournament really adds excitement for the players. It creates a defining moment you don’t get from a season-long round robin schedule. But more importantly it gives you a lot more flexibility in scheduling. We now know we only need three playing dates and three matches for OBCs. Strength of schedule has become so important for post-season seeding, the tournament gives you an option of scheduling some tougher non-county opponents.”
All tournaments will be single-elimination. In addition announcing the return of team tournaments, Day also released the dates and sites for the individual sports championships.
The Boys and Girls Swimming and Diving will be the first OBC Championship and it is slated for Bob Markinson Aquatic Center on Oct. 6-7. Boys and Girls Golf will be take place at Oct. 17-18 at the Royal St. Cloud Golf Club. Other championships to be held on school campuses include Boys and Girls Cross Country (St. Cloud, Oct. 19), Girls Weightlifting (Harmony, Jan. 13), Competitive Cheer (St. Cloud, Jan. 18), Wrestling (St. Cloud, Feb. 4) and Boys and Girls Track and Field (St. Cloud, April 12).
Boys and Girls Tennis will also be added, but a format and location has not been decided on.
In making the announcement, Adams said as it stands now, there would be no Covid-related restrictions on fans wishing to attend the events. Tickets, when required, can be purchased at the gate but Adams encouraged fans to purchase tickets to all Osceola County High School events online at www.ticketspicket.com.