Administrators debate summer practice rule

Some high school administrators are opposed to a proposed athletics rule that would expand voluntary summer practices in West Virginia.

Media outlets report the Secondary School Activities Commission’s Board of Control approved the change this week to include the entire summer, except for the week that includes the July 4th holiday. Previously the practice period was limited to three weeks during the month of June.

“It’s a bad idea, to be perfectly honest with you,” said Bridgeport High athletic director Matt DeMotto, who said his principal voted against the proposal.

The rule now goes before the state Board of Education and must include a public comment period.

SSAC executive director Gary Ray said many sports such as football already have year-round conditioning and weightlifting.

“If this passes, they’ll just have the opportunity to work with their kids in the summertime. I don’t think coaches will want kids all summer long. That’s just my opinion — they’re going to want some time to themselves.”

Randall Roy, Buckhannon-Upshur High’s athletic director, called the proposed rule “a step in the right direction.”

He said several administrators spoke at the Board of Control meeting about how schools that play teams from bordering states are at a disadvantage because of the greater amount of practices the opponents are allowed to have.

But former Harrison County board of education president Mike Queen said the rule will harm multiple-sport athletes “and will discourage student athletes from participating in academic and leadership activities normally held during the summer.”

Grafton High athletic director Rich Bord agreed.

“My first reaction was when are kids going to get to be kids?” Bord said. “I’m afraid that we’re moving more and more away from in high school athletics just the fun and the love of playing the game and it’s become more of trying to gear kids to get better and potentially be college athletes.”

Robert C. Byrd High athletic director Steve Gibson said that while the rule allows for flexibility, “I’m just afraid that it might cause some of the students to become burned out.”

— The Associated Press

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