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School sports overlap may cause issues

ELKINS — Gov. Jim Justice’s recent decisions regarding the start of winter and spring sports has created a dilemma for high school athletic directors and coaches around the state.

Unfortunately, the student-athletes could now face tough choices as well in the spring when their respective seasons get underway.

Justice originally announced back in November winter sports would be delayed until Jan. 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That date was pushed back again on Dec. 30 to March 1.

On Wednesday, the WVSSAC announced winter sports practices can begin Feb. 15 and games on March 3.

The completion of winter sports will now overlap later into the spring, causing concerns for baseball, softball, track and field and, in some schools, lacrosse.

In most years the time between the end of winter sports to the start of the spring season ranges from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on how far a school’s basketball team advances into the postseason.

Elkins High School athletic director Ross Ware has several concerns with the overlap that will happen this year.

“Practice schedules, limited indoor space and the unpredictable weather could cause some practice schedule issues,” Ware said. “Those students that play both winter and spring sports are also going to potentially have some tough decisions to make about what they want to do.

“At EHS we are going to have meetings with the winter and spring sport coaches to alleviate scheduling conflicts as much as possible.”

Ware added the availability of umpires is also something schools must consider.

“There are many officials across the state that officiate both winter and springs sports,” he said. “Finding enough to cover games in our area could be potentially difficult.”

Ware said the administration at EHS has had many discussions about athletics since the governor announced the push back to March 1.

“We feel regardless of any contract days or how long the seasons last, we should/will be doing anything we can for our students to be able to play,” Ware said. “Some of them are having a hard time without being able to ‘lace them up.’ If we don’t do everything we can we could potentially lose these athletes, and we definitely do not want that to happen.”

Ware concluded that during the COVID-19 era, it will literally take a team effort from all to return to some kind of normalcy for prep sports.

“We need the communities’ help to make athletics happen,” Ware said. “Our COVID numbers are extremely high right now and our students see that information. Their optimism for playing is dwindling as the active cases continue to rise.

“So please, Randolph County, let’s wear our masks and stay home as much as possible. We all have to make sacrifices for our students.”

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