Fall sports in West Virginia pushed back
PARKERSBURG — There will be high school sports in West Virginia in the fall, but they won’t be during the usual time frames.
West Virginia Secondary School Activities Director Bernie Dolan made the announcement during Gov. Jim Justice’s regular COVID-19 press conference Friday inside the state Capitol. All fall sports practices were pushed back two weeks, and seasons will be delayed in turn. Games were wound back so schools could still comply with the WVSSAC guidelines. Organizational rules require all students in all sports to participate in 14 practices before taking part in any game. Practices were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 3 with the exception of volleyball. Volleyball planned to start Aug. 10.
All mandatory practices will now begin Aug. 17.
The official start of the golf season will follow soon after on Aug. 24. Volleyball, cross country, cheerleading and soccer start Sept. 2.
“They all have the flexibility to change their schedules and therefore, instead of playing one game a week or two, you might have to squeeze in a third in order to get all your games,” Dolan said.
Football returns to action on Sept. 3.
“It is the Thursday night prior to the first week of school,” said Dolan. “We think it will be a great way to bring the community back together. Everyone will be in full swing by the time we walk into school that next Thursday. We think it is a great opportunity for our kids and for our schools to be at the center of their community again.”
Several area football teams were immediately impacted by the decision. Williamstown and Magnolia, who were scheduled to face Waterford and Marietta in the first week of the season, must now either reschedule their games or find a new opponent. Both Magnolia head coach Doc Chapman and Williamstown head coach Chris Beck didn’t have immediate comments.
While there was no specific mention regarding social distancing requirements at any games, Dolan urged everyone to comply with Justice’s executive order requiring face masks in public gatherings.
“You have to wear a mask. You’re going to need to be socially distant and wear a mask, especially indoors. And outdoors. Any time you can, do that,” Dolan said. “And I tell people, it’s up to the public to decide whether or not we’re going to have athletics in the fall. Because you’re the one who will wear the mask and take the social distancing and wash your hands. It sounds like it’s an easy thing for everybody to get on board with. So, if you’re not wearing a mask you very well could be the one. You’re setting an example to somebody not to follow and then that hurts all of our chances of participating.”
Dolan went on to say there likely would be limitations in attendance. He did not elaborate on the exact numbers. “I am sure they will vary from community to community and from sport to sport,” he said.
In closing, the WVSSAC leader reminded all nothing is currently permanent in this plan because new information becomes available on a daily basis.
“As we move forward, things change from time to time,” he said. “You can bet there’s two people up here (pointing at himself and Justice) that are going to do everything we can, safely, to allow athletics to continue, because we know its such an important part in the growth of our students.”
On another high note, all teams currently in the middle of the WVSSAC’s Phase III offseason workout plan also may continue until the end of the scheduled three-week period, according to Dolan.