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NCHSAA says….“Play Ball!!”

The long-awaited decision by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) whether to play or cancel the high school athletic season has been reached.

In a special called meeting held by Zoom on Tuesday, the NCHSAA Board of Directors have approved an amended 2020-21 sports calendar that features games for all sports. It does, however, move the starting dates for two major sports to January (men’s and women’s basketball) and February (football). It also reduces the number of regular season contests in all sports.

“Please keep in mind that these proposed dates are dependent on COVID-19 conditions improving across North Carolina,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said in a press release sent today (Wednesday). “However, last night (Tuesday) 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 is a school and/or school system operates.”

Listed chronologically, the proposed dates per sport are as follows:

Cross-Country and Volleyball: Nov. 4 is first practice date; Nov. 16 is first playing date; and Jan. 8 is final regular season date. Cross-Country has a season limit of 10 meets (no more than 2 per week). Volleyball is limited to 14 regular season matches (no more than 2 per week).

Swimming & Diving: Nov. 23 is first practice date; Dec. 7 is first competition date; and Feb. 19 is final regular season date. Season limit is 10 meets (no more than 2 per week).

Men’s and Women’s Basketball: Dec. 7 is first practice date; Jan. 4 is first playing date; and Feb. 19 is final regular season date. Regular season is limited to 14 games (no more than 2 per week).

Men’s Soccer and Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse: Jan. 11 is first practice date; Jan. 25 is first playing date; and March 12 is final regular season date. All are limited to a 14-game regular season (no more than 2 per week).

Football: Feb. 8 is first practice date; Feb. 26 is first playing date; and April 9 is final regular season date. Regular season is limited to one game per week for no more than seven weeks.

Men’s and Women’s Golf; Men’s Tennis; Women’s Soccer; and Softball: March 1 is first practice date; March 15 is first playing date; and April 30 is final regular season date. All will be limited to 14 regular season matches or games with no more than two per week.

Baseball; Women’s Tennis; Track & Field; and Wrestling: April 12 is first practice date; April 26 is first playing date; and June 11 is final regular season date. Baseball and Women’s Tennis are limited to a 14-game/match regular season (no more than 2 per week). Track & Field is limited to 10 total meets (no more than 2 per week). Wrestling is limited to 14 dual meets (no more than 2 per week).

Cheerleading Invitationals can begin on May 1.

Commissioner Tucker said this amended calendar represents the hard work of the NCHSAA staff, Board of Directors and various committees such as the City/County Athletic Directors, Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the Sports Ad Hoc Committee.

“There is still much work to be done on the details of implementing athletic programs and contests during this pandemic, but we thank these committees and individuals for their hard work to bring us to this point,” Tucker said.

She added that it is the belief of the Board of Directors and the NCHSAA staff that this calendar offers 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,” Tucker stressed. “Our decision-making process has been careful and calculated, as we work to ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and administrators during this unprecedented time.”

Tucker admitted that work remains to be done in regard to playoff formats, COVID-19 related rules modifications for numerous sports, securing potential playoff facilities and providing the safest possible regular season opportunities for student athletes.

“We are committed to that work and will continue to lead and govern interscholastic athletic programs across this state that support and enrich the educational experience provided by our member schools in such a manner to maintain the standards of excellence that the NCHSAA has become known for,” she stated.

Later on Wednesday during a press conference with statewide media, Tucker said that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be consulted in regards to coming up with a number of how many fans will be permitted to attend these individual sporting events.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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