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Rockbridge County calls temporary halt to high school sports-related activity; Henrico County cancels winter sports

Rockbridge County calls temporary halt to high school sports-related activity; Henrico County cancels winter sports

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Rockbridge County High School athletic director and boys basketball coach Mike Gale is known for employing a frenetic run-and-gun style of play.

For now, the first-year head coach and the Wildcats are grounded.

Gale said Monday that Rockbridge County has suspended all athletic activity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school’s athletic department made the announcement via its Twitter account:

“All workouts, practices, tryouts are put on hold until further notice. We hopefully will have more information in the coming days on when and if we can move forward with winter sports.”

Translated: when VHSL boys and girls basketball practice begins Dec. 7, Rockbridge County’s players likely will be sidelined.

“At this point, it doesn’t look good,” Gale said. “I wouldn’t anticipate it at this point. All I know is it’s on hold and hopefully get some more answers this week.”

The school system last week decided to halt in-person classroom learning until at least Jan. 18.

Rockbridge County’s boys team is scheduled to open its basketball season Dec. 22 at home against Valley District rival Fort Defiance, an Augusta County School. The girls team is scheduled to play at Fort Defiance the same night.

Neighboring school Parry McCluer still plans to hit the practice floor next Monday.

“We’re holding on,” Parry McCluer AD and boys basketball coach Mike Cartolaro said. “I just talked to the superintendent. He said, ‘As of now, yes.’ “

High COVID-19 numbers are chipping away at the resolve of school systems throughout the state to play winter sports.

While the VHSL canceled its 2020 spring sports season, the governing body of Virginia public school activities has left the decision to play winter sports — basketball, wrestling, swimming and indoor track and field — up to local school divisions.

Henrico County, which includes eight Richmond-area public high schools including football powerhouse Highland Springs, joined a growing list of Virginia school systems to cancel winter sports on Monday. That list also includes Richmond city schools, Williamsburg/James City County, Alexandria and a handful of other schools in Southside Virginia.

Fluvanna County High near Charlottesville canceled its wrestling season Monday.

Three Timesland private schools — Roanoke Catholic, Faith Christian and Dayspring Christian — canceled their winter sports seasons earlier this fall.

Several public systems including Bath County have elected to delay winter sports until at least Jan. 18. However, VHSL rules require eight days of preseason practice before playing a game.

“It’s too late by then,” Cartolaro said. “If you’ve got to have eight practice days, it’s over.”

The 13 public high schools in the Alleghany and Roanoke Health Districts — covering Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem, Botetourt County, Craig County, Alleghany County, and Covington — will use Virginia Department of Health metrics to determine whether they will practice and play winter sports, making decisions by noon each week.

Franklin County also is using a similar approach.

None of the localities involved is close to satisying the three rolling metrics — the number of new cases per 1,000 population in the last 14 days, the percent change in new cases per 1,000 population in the last seven days and the percent positive RT-PCR tests in the last 14 days.

Lord Botetourt athletic director Chuck Pound said his school plans to hold basketball practice but it will be under the VHSL’s Phase II guidelines with no shared equipment and participants separated by at least 10 feet of distance.

The Botetourt AD does not anticipate the winter sports season opening this month.

“I think the best-case scenario is the middle of January,” Pound said.

Contact Robert Anderson at robert.anderson@roanoke.com or 981-3123

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