TAYLORSVILLE — The boys and girls of summer, or at least springtime, have been put on hold.
Because of the COVID-19 virus, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has put prep athletics on hold, at least until April 6. That’s when the NCHSAA decides if it wants to re-open the season, suspend it for another two or three weeks, or shut it down for good.
The sports in question include baseball, softball, girls’ soccer, boys’ tennis, boys’ golf, girls’ and boys’ track and field and girls’ and boys’ lacrosse.
Two of those programs at Watauga — baseball and softball — played March 13 at Alexander Central. Watauga coach Ethan Greene and Alexander Central coach Pete Hardee reflected on the recent events following the Cougars’ 4-2 win over the Pioneers.
The coaches are not allowed to coach the players or hold practice sessions. They are also not allowed to hold sessions that are considered “skill development,” but the players are allowed to work out on their own.
“The biggest thing for us is, since we can’t really practice with them, our guys have to take it upon themselves to make adjustments and take the necessary steps to get together and get better on their own,” Greene said. “I do think at some point we will play again this year. I don’t know when it will be but when we get back I know those games will mean more as far as conference goes and as far as playoffs stuff. We’ve got to be on top of it when they let us back at it.”
Hardee, who was the baseball coach at Watauga for many years before coaching at Alexander Central, said he felt bad for the seniors who were missing games and hoped they could finish their seasons. But, he’s also optimistic that the season will resume after the April 6 deadline.
“That’s what I felt worst about are the seniors on my team and some of them feel that this was their last game,” Hardee said. “I didn’t do Senior Night tonight because I don’t think it is and I’m not going to give up yet. They just have to stay ready on their own.”
Hardee said he is going to listen to the experts and do what they recommend. He said the situation reminded him of 911.
“I’m going to trust the people to make the right calls for us health-wise,” Hardee said. “This is bigger than high school athletics. I told my players that this reminds me of 911. We’re probably going to see some things they’ve never seen before.”
Greene is also optimistic that the season will resume and felt the decision to postpone athletic games was done out of fear.
“At some point, the over-reaction will stop and people will realize what they’ve taken away from a lot of people just because of perceived over mass-hysteria of fear of something that is definitely real, but has been blown up by media everywhere,” Greene said.
Watauga (1-3) will miss 11 games until April 6 when the Pioneers are scheduled to host Alexander Central. The Pioneers play at McDowell on April 8, and the regular season ends April 29 in a non-conference game at home against West Caldwell.
Greene, a first-year head coach, said he enjoyed coaching against his former boss when they two were at Watauga.
“You know what you’re going against,” Greene said. “From the start, you know who is leading the team and you know that they’re going to come out ready. From pitch one, the whole time, you know you are going to have to be prepared and you’re going to have to fight until the end.”