By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
With sports across the state of North Carolina starting back on Monday, Nov. 16 following months of shutdown due to COVID-19, volleyball players will have to add another piece of equipment to their uniform – masks. NCHSAA (North Carolina High School Athletic Association) officials announced the move on Friday, Nov. 13.
“All of us have been waiting for this day for eight long months, and we are looking forward to the start of competition in volleyball and cross country on Monday,” Que Tucker, NCHSAA commissioner, said in a statement. “We are excited to once again be able to provide competitive learning opportunities for student-athletes under the NCHSAA umbrella in North Carolina.”
On the mask issue, she noted, “With the recent and continuing rise in COVID-19 numbers across the state, and upon advisement from the Governor’s health advisors, DHHS, and the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), the NCHSAA Board of Directors implemented a mask mandate for all individuals involved in indoor skill development activities as well as volleyball practice and contests. We believe that this is a necessary and safe step to control the spread of COVID-19 in our programs.”
Tucker explained part of the reasoning for the move. “Currently, after two weeks of practice, several volleyball teams across the state are in quarantine and will not start their competitive seasons on time due to COVID-19 exposure. With approximately 400 volleyball teams and nearly that number of cross country teams actively participating across the state at this time, we believe it is our responsibility to do all we can to keep this number as low as possible. The mask mandate for all indoor skill development activities is the most effective way we currently have to mitigate the risk of infection while allowing opportunities for athletic participation to continue.”
According to information from Cherokee High School (CHS) Athletics, a total of 25 home fans will be allowed for each of the home middle school, junior varsity, and varsity matches. While fans are being allowed, the matches are not open to the public as the fan passes will be distributed to families of the players themselves. “At the conclusion of each match (i.e. middle school, junior varsity, and varsity), the fans watching that particular contest must exit the arena to allow the next team’s fans to enter,” states information from CHS Athletics. Fans will be required to wear masks as well to all volleyball matches.
Each match will be live-streamed on You Tube with specifics to be announced soon.
The mask mandate does not apply to cross country runners. Fans will be limited for this as well. “Due to ongoing campus construction, we will only be allowing 25 home fans – no visiting fans will be allowed.”
A total of 25 season fan passes will be sold for home cross country events with priority going to the parents/guardians of the CHS runners.
The Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians approved a public mask mandate last month which would apply to fans for cross country meets.
“We are asking our coaches, student-athletes, and administrators for their continued vigilance and cooperation in these measures, including making sure to properly social distance during skill development sessions and adherence to the mask mandate,” Tucker said. “We all must do our part. It is our hope that by taking these steps now to get COVID-19 under control in all athletic programs, that we give ourselves a chance to offer competitive opportunities in all other sports at their designated times for this school year.”