COVID-19 Challenges HCPA Athletics And Activities

By Dave Bonko


For HCPA Athletic Director Sam Malone, scheduling high school sports during the 2020-2021 school year has been challenged by the realities of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“It’s been very tough,” stated Mr. Malone. “Last fall, sports were cut short in Minnesota and we had to make the tough call to suspend our school’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams this winter.”

The decision regarding the fate of the 2020-2021 boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons was very difficult.

“The choice to suspend the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams this year was not made lightly, as we always are looking to give our students the opportunity to compete in sports and raise our school’s awareness in the community,” stated Mr. Malone. “The physical nature of the sport, the higher numbers of players, as well as the safety of the family members of the students all contributed to us deciding to err on the side of caution and put off the season. Our perennial girls’ coach Brent Ness and new boys’ coach Joe Hultberg took the decision in stride, knowing that the student’s safety will always come first at HCPA.”

Mr. Malone spoke of how the school looked to increase student activities to make up for the lost winter sports season. Two new club sports recently began their respective season.

“eSports is one of the fastest growing high school activities in the United States where participants compete against each other in various video games,” explained Mr. Malone. “Our eSports team is led by Michael Seitz and Brandon Bunney. The two high school teachers have tremendous passion for the game. Competing solely online, the physical safety of the team is a nonfactor, and we will look forward to seeing the group grow and flourish in our school.”

In its second year, the bass fishing club is holding online meetings in high anticipation of the return of open water.

“HCPA’s bass fishing club is led by our Elementary School Dean, Xao Xiong. It has quickly become one of the more popular activities for our high schoolers. At this time, the students are talking and learning solely online, but will be able to get out on the water when the weather is warmer and are able to spread out. Ice fishing was an option this year, but due to the proximity of the anglers, we decided that it would not fall in line with the safety concerns we are having in the community.”

Mr. Malone also addressed HCPA’s 2021 spring sports lineup, which will feature boys’ club volleyball and girls’ badminton. Both activities will follow strict COVID-19 protocol standards.

“This spring, HCPA will offer girls’ badminton team, a varsity level sport in Minnesota, and boys’ volleyball, which still a club sport but is transitioning to the varsity level. With these sports both being played indoors, we will follow strict safety procedures that will include being temperature checked when a player arrives, socially distancing within the gym, masks on at all times, and any symptoms resulting in staying home until a negative test is shown. These sports bring our students and coaches great pride and a sense of belonging in our school, but also with the knowledge that with any positive test on a player who is in contact with others would result in the team being quarantined. The decision to be so firm with our students may seem very harsh, but we know that our students’ health is of the utmost concern to our parents, our school and the students themselves, as well as knowing that we have always held our students to a high standard in our school and outside of campus.”

“The safety of our student/athletes and their families is of the utmost concern, said Mr. Malone. “HCPA will work closely with the CDC and MDE guidelines to follow COVID safety procedures, making sure that our students and staff go above and beyond to keep themselves and each other safe. We’ll also work to be the standard for others to follow in terms of student safety. We take the opportunity to participate in sports very seriously during this uncertain time.”

Hmong College Prep Academy is located at 1515 Brewster Street in St. Paul, southeast of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. For more information about the school, interested parties can call 651-209-8002 or online at The school is enrolling students for the 2021-2022 school year. Space is extremely limited.

Hmong College Prep Academy's Boys' Volleyball Team in 2019 action. With strict COVID-19 protocol in place, the school is looking to offer boys' volleyball and girls' badminton this spring