ALBEMARLE — With less than a month before the first contests of the amended 2020-21 athletic calendar begin, Stanly County’s high school athletic departments are making sure they are ready to get back in the swing of things.
As scheduled in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association–sanctioned sports calendar for the year, cross-country and volleyball teams can officially begin practicing Nov. 4 and can hold their first competitions Nov. 16. For both sports, the final regular season contest is set for Jan. 8.
Cross-country teams will be held to a season limit of 10 meets with a maximum of two meets per week; volleyball teams are limited to 14 games in the regular season and also limited to two games a week.
Gray Stone Day Athletic Director and Principal Jeff Morris, a winner of the NCHSAA’s 2020 Charlie Adams Distinguished Service Award, recently caught up with the SCJ and discussed the process of starting back the athletic calendar at this point in time.
“We’re seeing how the guidelines and health screenings are going to go with people on campus and controlling that environment,” Morris said. “We’re starting with some small groups to see how that process goes and we’ll build from there to get us back as safely as we can going into the season.”
Morris said that even back in the summer his athletic department knew that the precautionary and safety regulations handed down were always subject to change throughout the year.
“We knew that what was going to matter was what they were when we got started,” he said. “They keep changing and we keep getting new guidelines from DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and the NCHSAA. We’re reviewing those with our coaches and making sure we have all our ducks in a row so that we can do things in a safe way. It’s pretty tough and it’s been a rough seven months for everybody, but we’re all fighting through it the best we can.”
Following in the footsteps of cross-country and volleyball, swimming and diving teams will be the next group of athletes to start their season in November. They will be able to begin practicing on Nov. 23 and hold their first meet on Dec. 7, with a season limit of 10 meets and weekly limit of two. The final regular season swimming and diving contest will take place on Jan. 30.
Basketball will be the next sport in line to begin but not until Dec. 7 — when teams will officially be allowed to practice in preparation for the start of the season Jan. 4.