New WVSSAC rules will benefit vaccinated student athletes

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:07 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After COVID-19 wrecked so many teams’ schedules last season, student athletes are hoping for a return to normalcy this year.

Cabell Midland soccer player Emma Chapman will remember 2020 for the games that didn’t get played. She says five games on her team’s schedule were cancelled due to the virus.

“Early on we had a bunch of players quarantined, and a bunch of our competitors were quarantined due to COVID,” Chapman said. “It was super disappointing.”

As the countdown to the start of fall sports winds down, everyone’s goal is to not have a repeat of 2020 when the wrong color on the state color map translated to empty fields and quiet Friday nights.

“Things weren’t very normal last year, but this year we’re hoping for a little more normalcy,” Assistant WVSSAC Executive Director Wayne Ryan, who’s in charge of high school football, said.

Thursday evening, the WVSSAC held a rules clinic at Huntington High, where Ryan said vaccinations are a key to preventing student athletes from quarantining.

“When it comes to COVID, we encourage vaccinations,” he said, “because if you’re vaccinated, you won’t have to be quarantined, and your athletes may not have to miss playing time like they would if they weren’t vaccinated. That’s a point of emphasis.”

Another change this season is if a school cancels a game because of COVID-19, and the opposing school doesn’t find an alternate opponent or schedule a make-up date, the school that cancels will have to forfeit, creating what could be a big advantage for teams with highly vaccinated rosters.

“We’re hopeful we have as close to a normal football season as possible,” Ryan said, “but every year we have a lot of safety regulations and policies we have to review with our coaches because we really want our athletes protected.”

High school sports practice in West Virginia begins Monday.

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