Contemplating Summer Sports

Athletic Directors React To Cancellation Of Spring Season

After last Monday’s order by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to close all K-12 schools for the rest of the school year, Virginia High School League officials held a teleconference call the next morning to discuss the possibility of letting spring teams return to action in the summer. However, they decided to put off any decision until May.

VHSL executive director Billy Haun said in a news release last Tuesday that any options for a spring sports season in the summer would require that the coronavirus pandemic “is no longer a threat and poses no health risks to our student-athletes or the public.”

“While we recognize the importance sports has on our students and communities, the COVID-19 threat is real and people need to follow all the regulations and recommendations from the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, and the governor. We must make that our number one priority,” Haun said.

“This is extremely serious and a lot has to happen before May for us to extend the season,” Haun added. “In every situation, every decision we make has been, and will be made in the best interest of our student-athletes and public safety.”

If the VHSL does give summer action the go-ahead, Haun figures teams would be allowed to restart preseason practice in late June, with games taking place in July.

If there are sporting events in the summer and they go into July, students will be required to have a new physical beginning July 1, with the new forms certified by parents. The first week of July is deemed a total dead period by the VHSL, so the VHSL Executive Committee would need to take action and provide a one-time waiver to allow teams to practice and play. The committee will also need to approve a revision of the public dates for the end of the spring season, which are currently in June.

Students entering college and taking summer classes that are not part of a dual enrollment situation and are no longer in high school would not be allowed to participate. There would also be no 2020 spring state champions recognized for any sports.

Both local high school athletic directors, Rockbridge County’s Rick Lollis and Parry McCluer’s Mike Cartolaro, said this is a “wait and see” situation.

“So much has happened in the country in the last 10-14 days,” Cartolaro said in a phone interview last Thursday. “I think it’s something that, in two or three weeks, we’ll have a definitive answer.”

“I’m not saying it’s not going to happen,” Cartolaro said of a potential short summer sports season for the spring athletes. “This is such a horrible situation we’re in right now when you look at the scope of what’s going on in the country. . . . Health is the priority.”

Lollis said that playing sports in the summer would be difficult because some of the fields are being shut down. Commenting on how the pandemic has affected RC’s studentathletes, Lollis said, “I hate it for the seniors. That’s hard.” Lollis has worked in education for 36 years, and this is the first time he’s faced a scenario where a sports season has been delayed or shut down.

In a message he sent out to RC studentathletes and community on Friday, Lollis said, “Many of you seniors are possibly thinking this may be your final opportunity to be with coaches, teammates, classmates, friends or even opponents that you have competed against. It is often stated that competition breeds a lot of things, but one of its most en during outcomes is inspiration. The accountability, dedication, emotions and motivation of being part of a team will always be etched into your heart and mind because whenever you have a moment where you think you can’t do something, you will remember your teammates who endured and stood by you through the good and bad times. Remembering your teammates, that is the inspiration that will allow you to prevail.”

Lollis went on to say, “We would hope that the scenario you have been given to accept would create a ‘hunger’ to participate and compete. RCHS sports teams and the community need student leaders that are willing to go above and beyond the everyday routines. We need student-athletes to set the example of ‘Wildcat Pride’ in the classroom, among peers, friends and the younger kids in our elementary schools, middle schools, as well as individuals in the community. It is important that you evaluate what you have done up to this point in athletics and then make the commitment to work harder so that you and your teammates can reach a higher level of success. … Take pride in being a part of the great things that RCHS has to offer by participating in as much as you feel comfortable with doing.”

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