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Nick Carroll

I strolled into the Hampshire High gymnasium last week, eager to get a sneak peak at the girls basketball squad. 

Basketballs thumped ferociously off the waxed hardwood floor as I made my way down the hall. 

The purpose of my visit was to write a brief season preview on the changes to the basketball sectional. 

During the offseason, the WVSSAC shifted the landscape from a 3-class format to a 4-class system.

Goodbye, Washington and Jefferson. Hello, Keyser and Berkeley Springs.

As much as I tried to remain focused on the task at hand, my mind was just transfixed on a rumor I heard earlier that day: winter sports were about ready to be shut down.

Now, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that winter sports were on the chopping block, but the COVID map was splattered with pumpkin and crimson colors from Harpers Ferry to Huntington. It was only a matter of time before Gov. Justice pointed the finger at athletics.

I pulled out my camera to get a few action shots of practice and 1 of the senior girls said hello. Unintentionally, my response was a bit snippy.

“Why are you so grouchy?” she inquired while doing sit-ups.

“You don’t even want to know,” I grumbled.

I made my way over to Coach Buckley, who was masked up, clipboard in hand.

“I’m supposed to talk to you about the upcoming season and the new sectional format, but who knows if that will even happen,” I stated.

It appeared I poked a hole in the balloon of optimism with my presence at practice.

Certainly not my intentions, but I couldn’t shake the same feeling I had back in the spring.

During a baseball scrimmage in early March, rumors were flying that Gov. Justice was getting ready to shut down athletics. And as the bearer of bad news, I couldn’t hold my thoughts then, and I couldn’t hold my thoughts now.

Simply put, life without sports sucks.

It sucks for me. It sucks for you. It sucks for athletes. It sucks for coaches. It sucks for fans.

At his Friday morning COVID press briefing, Governor Jim Justice announced that high school winter sports would not be permitted to start until January 11.

Goodbye, article on the season preview. So long, winter sports tab with team pictures. And good-bye, Hampshire sports in the year 2020.

Let’s hope and pray 2021 will bring a vaccine and a return to normalcy in life and athletics.

o

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