ALBEMARLE — In a summer full of delays and pushbacks, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association made a landmark decision on Aug. 12.
The NCHSAA released its full amended high school sports schedule, effectively postponing the fall sports season to the winter of 2020 and spring of 2021.
“The Board of Directors approved a framework we believe maximizes the opportunities for students in our membership to participate in athletics at some point during this school year, regardless of what plan a school and/or school system operates,” NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker wrote in a statement that accompanied the revised schedule.
“We recognize that this is a lot of information to digest and drastically different from the way the sport calendar has been aligned for years in North Carolina. However, as we mentioned many weeks ago, ‘We will play again,’” Tucker continued. “In that mantra we believe, and it is in that spirit that we present this calendar. It is the belief of the Board of Directors and our staff that this calendar provides us the greatest chance of providing interscholastic athletic opportunities to the students of the NCHSAA for the 2020-2021 academic year. We believe that this is the best path forward to a safe return to the field.”
High school football practice will be allowed to return on Feb. 8 while football matchups — in a condensed seven-game season — can officially commence on Feb. 26 and will run until April 9.
Volleyball and cross country will begin on Nov. 4 (with competition starting on Nov. 16) and last until Jan. 8, while the swimming season will go from Nov. 23 (with meets starting on Dec. 7) until Jan. 30.
Basketball is slated to be played from Dec. 7 to Feb. 19, with the first games on Jan. 4. Both the lacrosse and boys’ soccer seasons will run from Jan. 11 to March 12, with the first games on Jan. 25.
Golf, boys’ tennis, girls’ soccer and softball will begin on March 1 and end on April 30 — games and matches are scheduled for March 15.
Meanwhile, baseball, girls’ tennis, track and wrestling will begin on April 12 and end on June 11 — games, meets and matches are scheduled for April 26.
Additionally, the entirety of the 2020-21 indoor track season has been canceled. All dates are contingent on an improvement of the coronavirus pandemic.
West Stanly head football coach Brett Morton told SCJ last week that despite the postponement, it’s important that sports are still played.
“I think high school sports are one of the backbones of secondary education in this country,” he said. “We have a large section of kids, that without sports as an extracurricular activity, you take away some of their incentive for going to school. A lot of kids do well in school because they want to participate in athletics. Athletics keep a lot of kids out of trouble while also teaching them a lot about how to relate to and get along with people, and how to work with people who are different from you.”