NCHSAA puts breaks on spring sports

Watauga’s Abbie Jetter (8), Courtney Gragg (22) and Al Densham (13) play lacross on March 10.

CHAPEL HILL — CHAPEL HILL — Count the spring prep athletics season as a victim of the Coronavirus.

The NCHSAA voted to suspend all interscholastic athletics indefinitely on March 12. The ban goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. March 13 and will go until at least April 6 for “all workouts, skill development, practices and contests”

The NCHSAA also decided to postpone the 2020 boys’ and girls’ basketball state championships indefinitely.

“As much as we would like this opportunity for our student-athletes, coaches, and their communities, we know that ultimately any decision we make must err on the side of caution,” said Commissioner Que Tucker in a statement.

Watauga does not have any teams in the state basketball championships, but has several teams participating in athletics this spring. Watauga has baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ track and field, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, boys’ tennis and girls’ soccer and boys’ golf.

“I’m really disappointed for our student-athletes,” Watauga softball coach April Yandle said. “Our athletes train year-round and they want to compete.”

At the same time, Yandle also understands that the student-athletes and the coaching staffs face a difficult situation and that their health concerns are more important than winning ballgames.

“I am really disappointed for them, however, I completely respect any and all decisions made by the county, the state and anybody like that,” Yandle said. “As much as I want my girls to be able to play ball, their safety and their health does come first.”

Watauga has events in girls’ soccer, girls’ and boys’ lacrosse on March 12 and softball and baseball on March 13.

The NCHSAA said it would “assess the situation regularly over the next few weeks,” according to its news release.

Yandle said she met with the players, but also said she will not be allowed to practice any skills with them. They won’t be allowed to use the indoor batting cages or do anything that would be interpreted as skill development.

There are other considerations that may not be obvious, but are important to the players.

“I have two senior girls who are looking at missing games,” Yandle said. “If the season gets suspended or cancelled completely, they don’t get their Senior Night. So, it’s very disappointing and it’s hard to see your athletes upset. We have some girls on the team where the softball team is their family and now we’re not even allowed to practice.”

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