Sports Are Back For PM Players

 Sports Are Back For PM Players

A BASKETBALL is cleaned prior to Parry McCluer High School’s first boys basketball game on Saturday, one of a number of COVID-19 safety precautions being taken as the school resumes sports for the first time since March. (Stephanie Mikels Blevins photo)

For the first time since last March, local high school athletes are competing again.

Following a delay to the start of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Parry McCluer High School winter sports season officially began last Saturday with the first boys basketball game and the first wrestling meet. Next week the PM girls basketball team and the PM indoor track and field teams are scheduled to start their seasons.

Last month, due to continued rising cases of COVID-19 in the area, Rockbridge County Public Schools decided to cancel winter sports for Rockbridge County High School, except for the Forensics and Scholastic Bowl, which can be held in a virtual environment.

At PM, the Blues and their fans have been following COVID-19 protocols to make sure they are safe. Each player has his or her temperature taken and answers screening questions before practices. In addition, the coaches emphasize taking precautions outside of practice: social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks. The basketballs and other equipment are sanitized regularly.

At the basketball games, the coaches and officials wear masks, and the players who aren’t on the floor sit in different rows on the bleachers so they can social distance. Nobody other than players, coaches and officials are allowed on the floor, so the cheerleaders cheer from the bleachers.

The jump ball at the start of a basketball game has been eliminated, with the visiting team getting the first possession, followed by alternating possession each subsequent period. A coin toss will determine possession in the case of overtime.

Wrestling is limited to dual meets and tri-meets, with the possibility of quad meets that must be approved by the Virginia High School League. Each wrestler can have only one coach seated in his corner, rather than the usual two. Each match will be shortened, with a one-minute first period followed by two-minute second and third periods.

Some of the indoor track and field meets may be held outside, and PM was working on having a home meet on Jan. 23.

PM athletic director Mike Cartolaro said PM is doing everything but COVID-19 testing for its athletes, but the school encourages athletes to get tested if they are experiencing symptoms or have been in close contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Watching sports is also different this year, with only 25 spectators allowed, and spectators have their temperatures taken before being allowed at events. Pioneer District schools are allowing home fans, and the parents of seniors get priority. For those who can’t make it to basketball games, the Blues will have video so that fans can watch on for $5 or on the PMHS Facebook page. Broadcasting the games and providing commentary are PM sports information director Chris Floyd and his son Andrew.

The News-Gazette

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