At least one school in Kanawha County expects to be working out Monday when the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s comeback plan for state athletes and coaches launches Phase 1.
Charleston Catholic players in several sports are ready to report to the school’s Athletic Facility starting at 9 a.m. Monday for limited strength and conditioning sessions as part of the SSAC’s master plan to ease athletes back into shape following a three-month lull due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Phase 1, which lasts from June 8-19, begins for most counties around West Virginia on Monday, including Putnam and Cabell, but not for the eight public high schools in Kanawha County. Each county’s school board must approve the SSAC guidelines before they’re enacted and Kanawha County hasn’t gotten the ball rolling yet in that regard.
On Wednesday, Superintendent Ron Duerring called for a special meeting of the Kanawha County Board of Education on June 10 to discuss the matter and possibly approve the SSAC guidelines. Athletes and coaches cannot work out until they’re given the green light.
There are no such delays expected, though, for Charleston Catholic, a private school and SSAC member that’s not part of the Kanawha County School system. Charleston Cathholic athletic director Jacob Nelson said workouts are scheduled Monday for athletes in most sports, including the fall sports of soccer, cross country, volleyball and golf. Charleston Catholic does not field a football team.
Nelson said representatives of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston must OK the school’s workout plans, which are currently being finalized and will be submitted for approval.
Phase 1 of the SSAC’s three-tiered plan calls for groups of no more than 10 players and coaches at a time to meet outdoors for a maximum of one hour, with face masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizer available. The emphasis in Phases 1 and 2 will be on strength and conditioning, with no sports-specific drills permitted.
“We want to get them back into a safe environment,’’ Nelson said, “and get them in shape for the three-week practice period.’’
The traditional three-week summer session, which is Phase 3 of the SSAC’s plan, is scheduled this year for July 6-25 for most counties around the state, including Kanawha and Putnam.
“It’s definitely been difficult and we’ve had some obstacles,’’ Nelson said, “as to just how we’re going to keep everything clean and wipe everything down, do all that stuff. We’ve got thermometers to check their temperatures.
“We want to keep it safe for the kids — that’s our priority. Then they can come back to a good environment and get back to work. That’s our main goal. Some of those professional soccer leagues got all their athletes back and some of them got hurt right away. We want to ease our kids back into it.’’
Vice principal Jason Villers is credited by Nelson with rounding up a lot of the extra materials, including sanitizers and disinfectants, the school will need to ensure proper cleanup between sessions.
Nelson also said facilities director John Baird will be assisting the strength and conditioning programs for both Phases 1 and 2. Phase 2, set for June 22-July 3, allows groups of as many as 25 players and coaches to meet for two hours at a time, preferably outdoors.