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Thursday, 06 August 2020 14:21

NCHSAA working on new official start date following Cooper's Phase Two extension

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CHAPEL HILL — Less than 24 hours after Richmond County’s sports fans got the good news that voluntary workouts could begin, another layer of the coronavirus hiatus was laid out by Gov. Roy Cooper.

On Wednesday afternoon, Cooper announced he was extending the state’s modified Phase Two restrictions for five more weeks. His new end date is Friday, Sept. 11.

With his most recent extension, Cooper’s decision also impacts the official return of high school athletics.

Last month, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association marked Sept. 1 as the first day of the fall sports season, meaning teams could practice instead of just work out. The first week would be a dead period, but teams could resume play shortly after.

Richmond County Schools’ superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples and the Board of Education cleared Richmond Senior High School’s student-athletes and coaches to resume voluntary summer workouts on Tuesday, which could begin Thursday.

To those in the high school sports community, it was known Cooper’s latest push would have an impact on the return to play across the state. 

The NCHSAA and commissioner Que Tucker responded Thursday morning with a press release, stating the Sept. 1 start date is no longer in effect and that plans were being assessed for a new start date.

“Unfortunately, (Cooper’s) announcement means that the start of sports for the 2020-2021 school year will be delayed beyond Sept. 1 for NCHSAA member schools,” the release read.

“The NCHSAA staff and Board of Directors will review all available options, seek input from SMAC, DPI, a sports ad hoc committee, and announce a calendar for playing sports during the upcoming school year.”

The press release noted the NCHSAA hopes to announce its newest plans announcement “prior to Aug. 17,” which is also the first day of school for RCS students.

The Richmond football team was the first of the school’s seven fall sports programs to begin workouts, holding a series of 90-minute sessions Thursday morning. Approximately 70 players participated, according to head coach Bryan Till.

Other programs like volleyball and soccer are expected to begin some form of outdoor workouts and conditioning next week.

The new start date, whenever it will be, means no official practices or games can be played beforehand, shortening an already shortened fall sports window. No decision has been made about switching sports from one season to another.

“We want to play sports during this upcoming school year and are making plans to do so,” Tucker said in the NCHSAA’s statement. “However, the health and safety of all participants, including coaches and other essential staff, will be a priority as decisions and plans are made.”

This is a developing story.

Last modified on Thursday, 06 August 2020 15:06
Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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