Pandemic postpones early season high school basketball games

By Sports editor Brian Hoffman

The high school basketball season is scheduled to begin this week, but as opening day nears it appears unlikely teams will able to play due to the coronavirus pandemic. Under current Phase 2 rules for practice, teams are still social distancing and not allowed to share basketballs. That would make it impossible to play games.

“I would anticipate we don’t have anything before the New Year,” said William Byrd athletic director Jason Taylor. “We won’t even have basketball tryouts until we’re in Phase 3.”

“I could probably pick a varsity team right now but it would be tough to pick a jayvee team,” said Byrd boys’ basketball coach Josh Cunningham. “I haven’t even had a chance to see them play in a game situation. It wouldn’t be fair to the kids.”

The girls will not have a jayvee team this year but coach Brad Greenway is also holding off varsity tryouts until Roanoke County allows regular practices.

Also, the Virginia High School League has clarified a previous announcement about wearing face coverings.  On December 10, the VHSL announced that it “is requiring each school to follow the recommendations of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)” that students and coaches wear masks while participating in sports. This requirement was issued in response to information that the Governor’s Requirement to Wear Face Coverings would include such a provision.  However, EO 72 when issued stated that Face Coverings requirements “do not apply to … individuals exercising or using exercise equipment.”

“VHSL apologizes for any confusion created by its original release,” said VHSL Executive Director, Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “We ask the public to understand that it is the first mission of VHSL to make sure that athletics are conducted in a safe and healthy environment, and it was that desire that motivated the original decision.”

Accordingly, VHSL is rescinding its “requirement” that face coverings be worn during training and competition and is reissuing its guidance to conform with the intent of EO 72 that face masks are “strongly encouraged” but not required.  Each school may continue to exercise its discretion and judgment as to safety steps within its athletics programs as it pertains to face coverings.

William Byrd assistant basketball coach Jaylen Wheeler (on right in photo) wroks with Israel Hairston at a practice in Vinton. (photos by Brian Hoffman)


Head coach Josh Cunningham (on right) works huddles with Terrier players.


Terrier swim coach Krista Martin offers instruction at the Lancerlot practice.


Assistant James Martin goes over technique with some of the girls.

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