ALBEMARLE –– It’s been 68 days since a high school sports team has competed in North Carolina.
Last week, the N.C. High School Athletic Association announced to statewide athletic directors that it will indeed expire its coronavirus precautionary dead period on June 1. However, the possibility of summer workouts for fall sports beginning is far from a done deal.
The NCHSAA stated that it will be up to county and city school systems, as well as state and local government leaders, to give high schools the green light for summer workouts in preparation for fall athletics.
“After consulting with superintendents across the state, it was determined that a set date is necessary and important to help ensure that there is consistency as we move towards what is typically the summer season,” an NCHSAA email sent last week to statewide school districts said. “These regulations will neither supersede the governor’s mandates and allowances, nor those of the local school system.”
Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased reopening approach is a crucial component when it comes to the immediate future of state athletics. The second phase, which begins no earlier than March 22, would allow groups of more than 10 people to assemble, thereby allowing fitness centers, entertainment venues and playgrounds to reopen.
It will take four to six weeks after Cooper’s “phase two” for “phase three” to begin, a stage where high school administrators could feel less pressure to keep athletics shut down due to the absence of guidelines pertaining to assembly.
If that holds true, summer workouts have a better chance of returning in July. So far, all training sessions have been restricted to the form of virtual workouts, which the NCHSAA made an exception for; coaches are typically not allowed to work with their athletes during a dead period.
On March 13, the NCHSAA suspended all spring sports, including unfinished basketball state championships. A month later, the rest of the athletic spring season was canceled following Cooper’s order to close schools for the remainder of the academic year.
The basketball situation has since been resolved — it was decided at an April 29 board of directors meeting that co-state champions for the 2019-2020 season would be named for the unresolved basketball tournaments.
For men’s basketball, the eastern champions include Henderson Collegiate (1A), Farmville Central (2A), Westover (3A), and Lumberton (4A). The western champions are Winston-Salem Prep (1A), Shelby (2A), Freedom (3A) and North Mecklenburg (4A).
On the women’s side, the eastern regional champions are Weldon (1A), Farmville Central (2A), E.E. Smith (3A) and Southeast Raleigh (4A). Western champions include Murphy (1A), Newton-Conover (2A), Southeast Guilford (3A) and Vance (4A).