The Mecklenburg County School Board gave their approval on Monday night allowing Park View and Bluestone High Schools to participate in the Virginia High School League spring sports season.
It has been a year since the county high-schools have hit the field after sports across the state were shuttered in March last year as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country.
The Board heard from four members of the public regarding the return to spring sports. Each member of the public was given three minutes to speak.
Park View High School Biology teacher, Assistant Football Coach, and Assistant Baseball Coach, Holden Sykes was the first to speak. Mr. Sykes has been in contact with nine Athletic Directors in surrounding areas and pointed out that all nine schools will be participating in spring sports. “It is important to remember that if we do not have spring sports this year there will be an entire group of kids that have not been able to experience varsity level athletics.”
Ann Grey Newcomb expressed her support for “swift return” to spring sports. “As a mother of two high school athletes, I have seen the negative impact of the absence of these teams, peer relationships, and mentor relationships. COVID has robbed our adolescents of their sense of community support and an integral part of our culture. As I watch my own children struggle with this loss, I am even more concerned for the children of our communities who have fewer resources, and fewer opportunities to seek other avenues to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.”
Park View High School Health and P.E. Teacher and Varsity Baseball Coach, Matthew Shearin, said that he believed that all of the concerns surrounding sports could be solved with “teamwork and a plan”. “Our students deserve the opportunity to have their season with the proper protocols in place.”
Shelby Brown Averette is a math teacher at Park View High School and is also the head coach of the Varsity Softball team at Bluestone. “This is about the children and what is best for them and their mental, social, and emotional health.” Averette choked back tears as she asked the Board to consider letting “her girls play” and to provide these kids with a home away from home again.
With transportation and available drivers being a major issue, there was some discussion about cancelling middle school sports or to leave the decision up to the individual schools.
Several Tri-Rivers District teams have yet to indicate if they intend to participate in spring sports or not.
It is expected that Franklin and Windsor will play since they have participated in the other two VHSL sports seasons this year while Southampton is also likely to play as they are participating in the current fall sports season.
VHSL spring sports teams (baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and track and field) will be able to begin practice on April 12 with the first games eligible to be played starting on April 26.
Under the Condensed Interscholastic plan that was approved last summer, baseball and softball teams can play up to 12 teams during the modified regular season while soccer teams will be allowed to play 10 and track and field teams can participate in nine meets.
The regional playoffs would start on June 14 with the state semifinals to be played on June 22 and state title games on June 26.
Looking ahead, the Virginia High School League has indicated they plan to begin fall sports as usual in August.