The North Carolina Athletic Association Board of Directors approved on Aug. 11 an amended schedule for the 2020-21 school year. NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker made the announcement to the public the following day.
Tucker announced that no sports practices or tryouts would be allowed to begin before Nov. 4. Regular-season games for 2020-21 athletic year are now scheduled to begin Nov. 16 and conclude June 11.
There will be no official practices or team tryouts for any sport until Nov. 4. Voluntary workouts can continue, with local school districts allowed to implement certain restrictions.
The first five days of the school year will still serve as an NCHSAA dead period, Tucker said. Skill development days will begin following that under the association’s Phase 2 guidelines, which already are in place, with the exception that access to locker rooms and weight rooms will then be governed by each school system.
A majority of the school districts, including Wilkes County schools, began instruction this past Monday.
“We know that times are difficult for everyone across our state and across our nation as we continue navigating the difficult decisions that have confronted us all due to COVID-19,” Tucker said during last Wednesday’s press conference. “We have been working all summer on the goal of returning to the athletic fields and courts as soon as feasible and as safely as we possibly can.
“We know that if conditions do not get to a level that allows us to transition into Phase three, then we will have to make some adjustments, that we will have to drop back and punt.”
Schools will be limited to just seven regular season contests for football and 10 apiece for cross country, swimming and outdoor track and field.
All the other sports will be limited to 14 regular season contests. These numbers do not count postseason games or conference tournament games.
Football will be limited to one contest a week under this amended schedule. All the other sports will be limited to two games/meets a week.
Tucker said the NCHSAA hasn’t decided if all seven games during the football season must be played intraconference. According to Tucker, a decision on scheduling makeup and postseason is expected to be made by Sept. 4.
Also planned is a cheerleading invitational, which is scheduled for May 1.
Indoor track will not be held this school year. Tucker stated, “because the outdoor track season accomplishes the NCHSAA’s goal of allowing all student-athletes to have a chance to compete in their chosen sport this year. Outdoor track meets that without the hazards of large indoor events.”
Football will now begin its first practices on Feb. 8 and start regular season play on Feb. 26. The final regular season games will be April 9.
Boys and girls cross country and volleyball will be first sports to begin under the amended season schedules with their first practices set for Nov. 4 and the regular season set to begin Nov. 16. The final contests are set for Jan. 8.
Swimming and diving’s first practices will be Nov. 23 and begin the regular season on Dec. 7, which also will be the first practice date for basketball (they will begin its season on Jan. 4). The final meet date for swimming will be Jan. 30 while basketball will be Feb. 19.
Boys and girls lacrosse will begin practices the same day as boys soccer on Jan. 11 and start competition on Jan. 25 with the final regular date set to be March 12. Wilkes County does not field any lacrosse teams.
The spring is expected to be a very busy one for athletic programs as March 1 and March 15 are the scheduled first practice and first competition dates, respectively, for boys and girls golf, girls soccer, boys tennis and softball. The final game dates are slated for April 30.
Baseball, girls tennis, track and field and wrestling are all scheduled to start practice on April 12 and start their regular seasons on April 26. The final competition dates are set for June 11.
Notes: Local schools can have their own policies as it pertains to its student athletes playing multiple sports in a season. Look for more on the amended schedules, as they pertain to a certain sports season, in later editions of The Wilkes Journal-Patriot.