SUNRISE SUMMIT – Another punch to the winter sports season was delivered by Governor Jim Justice last Wednesday pushing the target start date to March 1.
Winter sports were supposed to get started on Jan. 11 with games set to begin 2 weeks later.
“We’ve got a lot of time left in the school year to be able to play and have the sports,” said Governor Justice.
“Just think of the numbers we will have vaccinated at that time. Absolutely, we are very hopeful that this thing is going to turn and we can absolutely go to where we can have the sports indoors. And we can do that starting March 1st.”
This is the 2nd time the winter sports season has been postponed. On Nov. 13, Gov. Justice halted all winter sports.
Justice did not specify whether March 1 is when practices or competitions can start for basketball, swimming and wrestling.
“What I don’t know, and we will get further clarification going forward, is March 1st the first practice or is March 1st the first game? Obviously that makes a big difference in about two-and-a-half weeks of practices and game time available,” said WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan in a MetroNews Talkline interview.
“In my mind, if you are in a classroom or you are in a practice, the practice has much more control. The coach can limit the number of people who are there, 10, 12, 15 people total at a time. I think it can be done safely. So we are hoping that over time we can communicate with the Governor and get to the point where we will be able to at least practice and condition for these kids.”
With December, January and February slashed from the schedule, Hampshire girls basketball coach Julieanne Buckley tried to find the silver lining for the season.
“We are hopeful for a March start, some sort of season is better than nothing,” said Buckley.
Coach Buckley was emotional when talking about the impact on her players.
“My heart broke a little more, for these athletes, for the seniors especially.”
High school winter sports are underway to some degree in Ohio and Virginia with games scheduled to begin in Kentucky, Maryland and Pennsylvania in early January.
“When surrounding states are playing, it’s a little hard to swallow and understand (Justice’s) reasoning,” Buckley stated.
“I know numbers are up in the state, but I can ensure we would continue to follow guidelines and be as safe as possible.”
Boys basketball coach Danny Alkire echoed the same sentiments.
“I understand the situation and severity of why it was necessary, but I’m saddened by missing even more time with the kids,” said Alkire.
“Sports not only provide lasting memories for the boys, but also valuable life lessons that you can’t get anywhere else. However, with that being said, their health and safety is of the utmost priority. It may be a shortened season, but I have faith we will get 1 in.”
The WVSSAC is scheduled to have a conference call with athletic directors and coaches from around the state sometime today, Wed. Jan 6., to figure out a revised calendar and timeline for winter and spring sports. ο