With all prep sports seasons in West Virginia currently on hold due to the coronavirus, athletes and coaches around the Kanawha Valley find themselves in a tricky situation.
Extracurricular activities at all state high schools are off until at least April 10, and Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch is set evaluate the situation during the week of April 6.
Of course, players want to remain in good physical shape and keep their skills sharp while their seasons are in limbo, but with schools closed and their athletic facilities off limits, just finding a place to work out or someone to do it with can be problematic.
“We can’t practice,’’ said Poca boys basketball coach Allen Osborne, “and my principal said they can’t be in the gym. We’re just going to wait and see what comes down the road.’’
The Dots still haven’t played their Class AA Region 4 co-final home game against Logan, with the winner advancing to the state tournament. All Class AA regionals were called off last Thursday, but state tournament teams have already been decided in both Class AAA and A.
Sophomore Isaac McKneely, Poca’s leading scorer, hopes to remain active however he can.
“I can’t just stay home and sit around,’’ McKneely said. “I’ve got to keep playing. I went to the [Tri-County] YMCA [Saturday] and got some runs in. So I guess I’ll just keep doing that. Stay in shape in case it happens we can play.’’
George Washington junior Mason Pinkett, like McKneely, plans on playing as much as he can during the interim. The Patriots are hoping to meet Wheeling Park in the state tournament quarterfinals if the season resumes.
“Just staying in the gym,’’ Pinkett said. “Just going wherever we can get any type of run in. We’ve found some places to go and play.’’
Charleston Catholic junior Aiden Satterfield, whose team has qualified for the Class A state tournament, said Irish players had been meeting on their own on Sundays even before the moratorium hit.
“One good thing is that a lot of guys on the team were already lifting on Sundays,’’ he said, “so a lot of us, we try to find a gym to get runs in. We’re just trying to keep our wind up, in case we play again.’’
Austin Dearing, a senior at Hurricane, saw his basketball season end several weeks ago, but he’d already gotten in seven practices with the Redskins baseball team when word came down last week about statewide prep sports being suspended.
“We met up with coach [Brian Sutphin] on Friday,’’ Dearing said, “and he told us the news that we really couldn’t do anything. It’s kind of hard to do anything because they took our key to the building.
“So there’s nothing organized. We’ve told the guys to do individual stuff, work out, keep in shape. We haven’t really figured out anything [beyond that], but we’ll rent a place and do some stuff. Just what, we don’t know yet.’’
Osborne, who has been coaching at Poca for 40 years, admits that his team’s current situation is “uncharted territory’’ for everyone.
“That’s the hard part,’’ Osborne said. “We don’t know what to do, to be honest with you. I don’t have any answers. If they knew we were going to have a tournament, they could say, ‘We’re going to have it on such-and-such date,’ and we could make plans. But right now, we just don’t know.
“I hope we can get in some preparation time, because it would be unfair to the kids if you can’t prepare your team. They’re going to lose some conditioning there, no doubt about that. You hurt for the kids because they’ve worked so hard, starting before the season with lifting and running and conditioning.’’