POINT PLEASANT — School winter athletics programs in West Virginia are set to return in less than a month and many are more than ready for their delayed return.
Winter sports were postponed by the state last year due to the coronavirus. Earlier this month, a petition was circulating on social media by parents and coaches to bring back winter sports sooner rather than later. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 3,900 people signed the virtual petition asking Gov. Jim Justice to reconsider his mandate on winter sports.
In Point Pleasant, the boys basketball coach, Josh Williams, was in support of the petition. Williams said, with protocols and guidelines, if getting students back in the classroom was possible, sports could be also.
“Curriculum and athletics go hand-in-hand to give a good balance at the school,” Williams said. “I know a lot of kids, including myself growing up, that if it wasn’t for the athletic piece, my performance in the classroom might not have been as good.”
William said he understands there may be “hiccups” along the way with reintroducing sports, but the teams could always stop if there was an increased risk to athletes, coaches or schools.
“We could do it with a safe method,” Williams said. “That’s just my feelings on it, my personal opinion.”
Gov. Justice released information on high school sports returning next month. Winter sports can begin practice on Feb. 14, which games set to begin on March 3. Spring sports are expected to begin practice in March.
Williams said there will be some two-sport athletes that will have to decide which sport to participate in on some days or even weeks. However, Williams said many of the coaches have discussed the matter and agreed to cooperate to let the kids play both sports if they want.
“This virus, one thing that I think its done is made people cooperate,” Williams said. “We’re all coming together for one common goal.”
Williams said the overall safety of everybody is what is important.
“At the end of the day, we want to keep our kids and our brotherhood of coaches safe,” Williams said. “Whatever happens with that aspect, we just have to respect the decisions that are made, whether we agree with them or not.”
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.