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Start of high school sports practices pushed back

The Inter-Mountain file photo The start of the high school football and other fall practices have been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CHARLESTON – A delay for the start of practices for high school fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic became official on Friday.

WVSSAC executive director Bernie Dolan took part in Gov. Jim Justice’s COVID-19 afternoon press briefing.

Dolan said practices for fall sports — originally slated to get underway on Aug. 3 — will now begin on Aug. 17.

Regular-season games for high school football, meanwhile, are been pushed back a week, with Thursday, Sept. 3, now being the date teams can begin play.

Earlier this week, Justice announced schools would not open until Sept. 8.

“We think it will be a great way to bring the community back together,” Dolan said of opening the football season on a Thursday. “We think it’s a great opportunity for our kids and for our schools to be the center of the community again.”

Elkins High School was scheduled to visit Liberty-Harrison in its opener on Aug. 28.

“There is not a plan in place yet,” EHS athletic director Ross Ware said of what action will be taken on rescheduling the Liberty contest. “The Big 10 (Conference) is having a meeting on (Aug. 3), and we’re hoping for more information and clarity will be available at that time.”

Ware said some options include schools eliminating bye weeks and still trying to play a 10-game schedule, or pushing the start of the playoffs back a week.

“It’s really hard to know for sure this early what’s going to happen,” Ware added.

Soccer, cross country, volleyball, golf and cheerleading will also start practices on Aug. 17.

Golf can begin matches on Aug. 24, while the other sports can begin contests on Sept. 2.

Both Justice and Dolan, however, stressed the safety of the student-athletes is a priority.

“Sports give us so much, they teach us so many life lessons,” said Justice, who serves as head coach for the Greenbrier East girls basketball team. “But we have to be safe and do it right.”

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