The Friday Night Lights

West Wilkes faces North Stokes during the Jerry Minton Scrimmage back in 2011. The NCHSAA announced on Wednesday that football will begin practice on Feb. 8 with the first competition date set for Feb. 26.

I had a completely different topic, and idea, for my column all written up and ready for today’s e-Edition as I left the Wilkes Journal-Patriot office Wednesday evening.

But as I made the short trek to my car to leave, something hit me — not literally though.

Maybe it was inspiration, or my mind wandering. But it was probably more from the news that had been broken a couple of hours earlier.

Wednesday afternoon, the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) announced its amended schedule for the 2020-21 school year. It’s expected to be anything but the usual schedule, but nothing has been usual for the past five months.

The biggest takeaway from the schedule announcement is the news of football moving from the fall to the spring — if you can call Feb. 8 spring.

The Super Bowl has been played each February in recent years, but NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said during Wednesday’s press conference that spring high school football will be for one year.

The first thought that came to mind was being outside in February, which normally doesn’t occur until the end of the month when I’m standing in a dugout or on a soccer pitch and wearing multiple layers to try to stay warm.

You’d think I’d be used to covering football in the cold weather when the postseason hits, but as a colleague was quick to tell me, there’s a difference between November cold and March cold. That’s no joke.

But regardless of the weather, it’ll be great to see the Friday Night Lights back, even if it involves some frost when the season starts.

On the flipside, I won’t have to worry about cold early season baseball games with those being moved to the end of April. This is usually when baseball teams are finishing up their regular seasons.

I’ll still have to deal with cold softball games, along with women’s soccer and men’s tennis matches, as well as men’s and women’s golf matches, when those seasons start on March 15.

That might be as close to a regular spring sports seasons as possible.

Being indoors during the spring sports season will be different for everyone since wrestling was moved to the end of April.

Wrestling also signifies the last state championships to take place from the 2019-20 school year and this may confuse some as to why they moved it to this late in the calendar. As wrestling is one of the more high-risk sports and takes place indoors, the NCHSAA and local schools now have a lot of time to prepare and take all of the necessary precautions for it to go smoothly.

High school cross country and volleyball teams will kick off their seasons in about three months, which is normally when their seasons are concluding.

From the many years of covering state cross country championships in Kernersville in early November, I know a lot of the runners like running when it’s colder for many reasons. Volleyball, usually only using one side of the stands for competitions, could almost serve as a guinea pig for how to do proper social distancing for games prior to basketball starting, which will all be played after the Christmas holidays.

Like basketball, I don’t expect swimming to have much trouble adjusting to the amended winter schedule since early December is when most schools are conducting swim meets.

Probably the most out of place that a sport might be with this new calendar is boys soccer, normally played in the fall but this year starting at the end of January. Lacrosse will also take place at this time, but Wilkes County has no teams in that sport.

While I haven’t looked ahead at what all this will mean in terms of coverage for the newspaper, just know that all of our freelancers and myself will make every effort to get every sports team covered.

The amended calendar is bound to cause staffing nightmares depending on when games are played and at what time.

Having said all that, we’ll be relying a lot more on head coaches to either send in stats and results from matches, or post them on MaxPreps, as many of them have in the past.

As the 2020-21 school year is about to begin, it’s expected to be one crazy trip for everyone involved. As long as everyone follows proper safety protocols (and please do!), this sports season can go smoothly.

And who knows, possibly create some special seasons in the process.

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