Up & Coming Weekly

July 28, 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 17 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JULY 29- AUGUST 4, 2020 UCW 17 EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWS- ports@gmail.com. 910-364-6638. Attention Students: Let Your Voice Be Heard Get published in our award-winning community newspaper Up & Coming Weekly Send in your feature articles, editorials, short stories, movie and music reviews or original poetry and artwork to: highschoolhighlights@upandcomingweekly.com Subject line: High School Highlights Please include your photo and school information. HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS Normally at this time of year, fall sports coaches would be working with their athletes to get them in condition for the official start of practice on Aug. 1. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put everyone into a hol- ding pattern as news about the spread of the disease changes daily. Instead of firm dates, coa- ches for schools in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association have had to deal with multiple changes in when fall sports will resume, if at all. Most recently, they learned the earliest they will be allowed to begin fall practice will be Sept. 1. Jesse Autry, who is beginning his 29th season as cross count- ry coach at South View, voiced the situation best for all of his fellow coaches. Autry talked at length about being separated from his athle- tes for much of the summer until coaches were given permission to contact them via computer. "We communicate at least once a week by way of Zoom or Google Meeting or something like that,'' Autry said. He talks with his athletes online and invites their parents to join in. The first time he did it, Autry said things got a little emotional. "For all of them to see each other's faces on the screen I was really surprised,'' he said. "I'm worried about the long-term impact of this, social isolation, kids seeing each other. Not being able to play team sports, to learn from camaraderie and friendship that comes from get- ting in the trenches together.'' Autry said he knows COVID-19 is a serious mat- ter and he supports the decisions of his superiors, but he's hopeful there will be some kind of return to sports soon. "I want us to compete,'' he said. "I want us to be able to practice. I can see on my kids faces and hear in their voices what they are going through.'' Todd Edge, golf coach at Cape Fear, saw the same thing when it came to his athletes being separated. "When we were finishing up our schooling on Google Classroom, when we stop- ped the teaching and recording part of it, the kids wanted to stay online and talk to the teacher and their peers because they aren't seeing anyone,'' he said. "They're not socializing with one another.'' Jack Britt football coach Brian Randolph said the key issue remains the safety of the athletes, athletic trainers, coaches and all the sideline per- sonnel involved in his sport. "I don't think we can create the bubble as the NBA and other higher level sports are doing,'' Randolph said. "The first thing we have to worry about is the school aspect and getting kids back into school safely.'' Terry Sanford tennis coach Susan Brady is con- fident most coaches would be willing to accept any form of abbreviated schedule just to be able to have competition this fall. Her main concern, which is shared by other coaches, is how much time the athletes need to get in compe- tition shape. For tennis, she thinks two or three weeks of practice while doing some cardio conditioning on the side would be enough to get in condition for matches. "The nice thing about tennis is when you're on the court playing it's constant movement,'' she said. Gray's Creek volleyball coach Jalesty Washington feels that if people can go out and shop and interact in other ways in public, there has to be a way to figure out a safe method to return to athletic competition. "I feel like everybody is going out and doing normal stuff,'' she said. "I don't know what's different with the school and getting in the gym.'' Pine Forest soccer coach Isaac Rancour is trying to stay as posi- tive as possible and not focus on the frustration of repeated delays and no definite word on when or if the fall season will begin. "I'm just kind of going with the flow and pas- sing information along as I get it,'' Rancour said. "I don't think it does any good to get frustrated about it.'' He knows his players have worked hard and the seniors are worried if they will get the chance to play this year. Whatever is done, Rancour wants it to be safe for everyone. "We are going to need more time to make sure we are able to social distance the kids and get everything checked before we get everyt- hing started,'' he said. "If we have everyone doing their part it should all work out.'' Coaches discuss launching sports season during uncertain time by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Susan Brady Brian Randolph Todd Edge Isaac Rancour Jalesty Washington Jesse Autry

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