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School sports poised to return

Sports for Charlotte County Public Schools will be back as soon as the winter weather allows.

The Charlotte County School Board voted Tuesday, Feb. 9, to allow the school division to participate in season two athletics, which includes football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country and golf.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to these fall sports being delayed until now.

Christopher Holt

“I’m excited for the kids because it’s just been awhile,” Randolph-Henry High School Assistant Principal and Athletics Director Christopher Holt said. “March 12th is a long time ago when athletics kind of came to a halt, and it’s nice to be able to connect with those kids again and get them in front of our coaches and get some mentorship going on, some coaching and yeah, man, just get them active again.”

Practices were scheduled to begin Tuesday, Feb. 16, but inclement weather has shut down Charlotte County Public Schools for the week, pushing the start to next week.

Holt acknowledges that preseason practices will be particularly important.

“We have a large number of our kids that are just completely deconditioned at this point — not all of them, but a large number of them,” Holt said. “So it’s going to be a slow process just trying to ease back into it and be safe and follow all the safety protocols that we have in place and that are included in the Virginia High School League Return to Play guidelines for each sport.”

He said the safety of the school division’s student-athletes and coaches will be its No. 1 priority.

“No matter any way you look at it, this is not going to be a normal season,” he said. “It’s not going to be normal, but we hope to have a full season, and to do that, we have to be fully committed to all these safety protocols and be able to execute them day in and day out.”

A full season will be shorter than the norm in some cases, with varsity football allowed to play a total of six regular season games as opposed to the usual 10.

Holt said details about spectators being allowed at school are still being determined.

“We just don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like,” he said, noting that Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 72 allows 25 spectators indoors and two guests per player outdoors.

But Holt said every locality has been treating the issue of spectators a little differently.

However, if Statesmen fans end up not being allowed to attend home sporting events, another option will exist for them to watch the games.

“We do have the ability to livestream our events that occur in the (Central Middle School) CMS gym and also at the football stadium, so that gives us at least an option for fans,” Holt said.

Randolph-Henry has typically fielded varsity and junior varsity (JV) football and girls volleyball teams, but it is not confirmed yet if that will be the case for the upcoming season.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what the numbers look like,” Holt said. “We’re gathering that information now, and when we do get to practice a full week, we’ll make a decision on what we’ve got and whether we can have JV and varsity, whether we can have just varsity or whether we can’t have any based on what the numbers look like as far as participants go because you’ve got a lot of factors that are figuring into that.”

A couple of the factors include the eligibility of student-athletes and whether or not parents will choose to allow their children to play with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing.

Holt said CMS will participate in girls volleyball. He said due to lack of participation from other area schools, CMS will not participate in soccer, and the school opted to move golf to season three in the spring.

The first game for the Randolph-Henry varsity football regular season is scheduled for Saturday, March 20, at 1 p.m. against visiting Cumberland County High School.

The Statesmen football squad had only four games on the schedule as of Monday, Feb. 15, due to multiple James River District teams not participating. Two non-district games will need to be scheduled to fill out the season, which Holt said will not be easy to do.

Holt said the Randolph-Henry girls volleyball regular season will begin Tuesday, March 2, and the Statesmen golf regular season will begin Thursday, March 4, at Briery Country Club.