Coaches React to Pandemic-Causing
Season Closures and Postponements
The severity of COVID-19 has impacted the sports world as the state football playoff teams can continue if they aren’t in the orange or red colors on the metrics map and Governor Jim Justice made the announcement to halt all winter practices and games until January 11 and some of the Hardy County coaches reacted to this decision affecting the youth.
For starters, East Hardy Football qualified to play in the state quarterfinals against Tolsia with last weekend’s victory at Doddridge County, but both teams were in danger on the color code and waited until the map was revealed on Saturday evening determining their fate which was no game to be permitted as Hardy County was red and Wayne County was orange.
The Cougars (6-2) tried to prepare for the week as normal with that decision looming, but the season is now officially over and the last game was a victory.
“Extremely disappointing to have our season end in this fashion. Of course we knew this was a possibility all season, but we’ve just grown accustomed to controlling our own destiny,” East Hardy Football coach Devon Orndorff stated.
“Obviously we didn’t have a perfect season, but we really felt as though everything was playing out in our favor (in terms of the playoff bracket and matchups). All-in-all, we all should just be grateful that we even had a football season.”
The way things are trending is leaving doubt there will be winter seasons as the spread of the coronavirus continues to get bigger.
“To be honest, I think we are being set up for a canceled season. It reminds me of the Spring when they just initially pushed things back, then back again and then canceled altogether. Especially withs one of the comments the governor made, specifically about not knowing ‘how in the world wrestling could continue’,” Moorefield Wrestling coach T.J. Van Meter remarked.
“Hopefully our leadership can devise a strategy of combating this virus that makes more sense and provides some consistency. I think everyone gets it as far as it’s pandemic and what a serious problem it is. I think what I struggle with, and what student-athletes struggle with is, ‘why are they the only ones suffering if there is a spike in COVID cases?’. The governor and the WVSSAC have made a joke out of the map. Add a color, change the criteria for playoffs, whatever the case might be it has been inconsistent and thus not credible. But anyway you look at it the map was only designed to effect school attendance and athletics. What logic does it make if you have a rise in COVID cases in a county, to the point where kids can’t safely attend school, or a community can’t attend a football game outside, but we can still all go to Walmart or to a bar. I think student-athletes are having a tough time dealing with that. I know I am. Ultimately, young people need to be in school. Hopefully, the new vaccines we’ve all been hearing about can soon be distributed to the most vulnerable in our society and we can let our kids get back to living their lives.”
Rules have been followed rigorously by the student-athletes in regards to safety protocols warning make, being in pods and sanitizing hands and equipment, but the county numbers have affected whether play can happen or not.
“We were really looking forward to the season starting on time. We are disappointed, but optimistic that we will get to wrestle in late January. We are hoping that the number of cases will go down over the next month and a half. If that happens we will be ready to wrestle in late January. The kids have been working since last season to get ready for this year. If wrestling happens, we will be ready,” East Hardy Wrestling coach Steven Miller commented.
“I think I will come up with a home workout for them soon. To be honest, I don’t think we get to have a season, but stranger things have happened. I want it bad for the kids. They need normal.”
There are planned changes for basketball with no opening tip-offs and wrestling will have limited rosters with sanitizing of wrestlers after every match and there is a cap on the number of opponents for the day’s competition.
Not having a gymnasium to practice shooting the basketball for this time period will mean some of those early games will look horrible with the field goal percentage being low with the rim rockers.
“Well my season is usually postponed a little bit by having a football program that usually stays alive till December, so for me I’ll just try and treat it as such and when I only have a handful of practices for the first game it will be what it is and you hope you can get your team ready for sectionals when it is time for that,” East Hardy Boys Basketball coach Chris Hahn noted.
“None of the teams actually following the no gym time rules the governor set in place will be able to shoot. You can’t get a player ready in 5-7 practices, so I expect some ugly basketball when we do get to start. As far as positives I don’t really see many kids aren’t being infected in schools or at practice and we have five months of experience to prove that, so I don’t really see the thought precess behind it. But I’ll coach when I’m allowed, the players will play when they are allowed and we will continue to adapt. [Home drills] Ball handling, but that is if they have a ball and not much else.”
The practices and games are on hold during for winter season with the student-athletes anxiously pacing around in anticipation of the January start.