By Tim Gardner
The remaining spring North Carolina high school athletic seasons and state basketball championships have been canceled for the 2020 spring seasons, which includes Avery County High and the county’s middle school sports teams.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association, the governing body of prep sports in the state, made the decision April 24 after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that all schools have been closed to in-person learning for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year.
The NCHSAA released the following statement: “In keeping with Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement that the public schools of North Carolina will be closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has canceled all remaining winter championships and spring sports,” the statement read.
There also will be no state championships in girls’ or boys’ basketball, although most of their respective seasons were played.
The spring sports include sports such as baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ track and field, golf and tennis.
Athletic teams, including those preparing for fall seasons, will not be allowed to gather for any organized practices or for skill development until athletics resume.
“As of right now, we’re still operating under that at Avery High and in our middle schools,” Avery Schools Superintendent Dan Bridgman said. “We’ll wait to hear from state high school sports officials when we can get back to having some workouts with skill development or things like that. These decisions are made with the safety of all those involved.”
Bridgman said he was particularly disappointed for the student-athletes, who have not participated in any sporting events since early March.
“With the cancellation of spring sports, I hurt for the athletes, mostly for the seniors, who didn’t get a chance to play some sports or finish their basketball ones their senior seasons,” he noted.
Bridgman also said the Avery County public school coaches are still in communication with the student-athletes.
“That’s what the worst–the close-knit relationships athletes built with each other. That is the driving force in sports to start with. There were also other school functions cancelled which is most unfortunate. But the COVID-19 is unlike anything many of us have ever seen in our lives.”
“The decision is difficult for the NCHSAA Board of Directors and staff. We empathize with the thousands of student-athletes, especially graduating seniors, coaching staffs, officials and family members affected by this decision,” said NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker in a statement. “However, this decision reflects a commitment to keeping our student-athletes, officials and member schools’ staffs and their communities safe, while following the guidelines provided by the governor and his team, along with the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education.”