Up & Coming Weekly

June 09, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 49 of 56

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JUNE 10-16, 2020 UCW 49 HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS Barring any last-minute chan- ges caused by the situation with COVID-19, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has set a tentative date of June 15 for hopefully allowing its member schools to resume some kind of workouts in prepa- ration for what it hopes will be a fall sports season. But the look of those workouts and the look of the fall sports season are pictures that will both be dramatically altered and possibly out of focus based on the various plans that have been put forward for how teams can proceed. On a video conference call with reporters statewide last month, NCHSAA commis- sioner Que Tucker announced the official exten- sion of the current summer dead period to June 15, hoping that by then, the Phase Two plan of reopening the state of North Carolina would allow enough flexibility for teams to conduct some kind of practices. "We will be very deliberate in our task, which is one reason we have not rushed,'' Tucker said. The main reason for taking it slow, Tucker said, was to carefully develop plans to make workouts safe as possible and allow coaches and athletic directors time to develop their own local plans of how to secure things like hand sanitizer and set up hand-was- hing stations. "It will not be possible to prevent every student-athlete from contrac- ting COVID-19,'' Tucker said. "It's our goal to do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, our coaches and the communities represented by our schools.'' For some sports, like football and wrestling, summer workouts will likely not allow any physical contact, making them more sessions devoted to condi- tioning than actual practice sessions. Tucker said the current NCHSAA plan is not to hold any team back from practice once June 15 arrives, but to allow all of them some form of workouts within the guide- lines set down by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The National Federation of State High School Associations has also issued a lengthy set of guidelines, but Tucker said the DHHS guidelines would take precedence. The big question yet to be answered is will there be a fall sports season, especially football, which generates much of the revenue that is the life blood for the entire athletic program at many schools. The other question yet to be answered is how many fans, if any, would be allowed to attend football games or other sporting events. That is a question Tucker is not ready to answer. "To not have any fans in the stands would be rough,'' she said. "We are not at the point yet where we are pulling up the tent on football this fall. We are hopeful we can have some fans.'' Once the fall arrives, Tucker said the NCHSAA will look at any option possible to putting teams on the field, especially football. That could mean everything from a later than normal start to cut- ting the season short. NCHSAA bylaws do not prohibit moving a sport to another season, but Tucker said that's somet- hing that the NCHSAA would prefer not to do. "Moving sports season is a last resort,'' she said. "It's too early to talk about that. It's very clear wha- tever we do will not be outside the parameters of the guidelines from the governor and DHHS.'' For the moment, Tucker said the most import- ant thing is that all agencies involved in deciding when and how high school sports will resume be consistent with what is put in place. "It is important we are all singing from the same song sheet,'' she said. Cautious NCHSAA hopes practice can resume shortly by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Que Tucker EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWSports@gmail. com. 910-364-6638. For the third year in a row and the fourth time since 2009, Cumberland County has brought home the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's Exemplary School Award, a measure of the quality of what the NCHSAA calls the total program at the winning school. The win by Gray's Creek adds them to a list that includes the last two winners, Terry Sanford and Cape Fear, along with Jack Britt, which captured the award in 2009. A common thread at all of the schools is something that was started years ago by for- mer Cumberland County Schools student activities director Fred McDaniel and conti- nues today with one of his successors, Vernon Aldridge. That's a push for all county schools to get their athletic directors and coaches cer- tified by the National Federation of State High School Associations. "I think it helps with the quality of coa- ching that our young people are going to receive,'' Aldridge said. "I think the taking of National Federation courses is creating a better coach, which hopefully will create a better experience for our student athletes in Cumberland County.'' Aldridge said the award does more than measure what a school does on the athletic field. It considers multiple elements, inclu- ding academic performance. "It's exciting to have three schools in three years win this award,'' Aldridge said. "What I hope it shows is we are providing a quality product, athletically as well as academically, for the students in Cumberland County.'' Gray's Creek athletic director Troy Lindsey, who like Aldridge is currently a member of the NCHSAA Board of Directors, feels the award for his school is the bypro- duct of having an outstanding staff, inclu- ding both head and assistant coaches. "Everyone of my head and assistant coaches gets it,'' Lindsey said. "They get the whole purpose of what interscholastic athletics is about. It's an extension of the classroom.'' Lindsey feels Cumberland County has been a consistent winner of the Exemplary School Award because of outstanding leadership over the years at the county level, coupled with the fact the entire school sys- tem has embraced the importance of having certified coaches and athletic directors. "I've been an athletic director for 15 years, and for 15 years it's been the same mes- sage,'' Lindsey said. "You've got to do it right and you've got to get the certification to stay up to date on things. "I think we have embraced that as a sys- tem before other people have.'' Gray's Creek extends county Exemplary School streak by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Gray's Creek has been awarded the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's Exemplary School Award.

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