Locals react to sports waiting game

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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For the Washington Daily News


The sweat poured off Walt Gerard’s body as he ran up and down the Choppy Wagner Stadium steps on a broiling summer Friday afternoon. The Pam Pack senior linebacker was preparing for his final fall high school season without knowing when it will start.

The North Carolina State High School Athletic Association Commissioner Que Tucker recently announced the fall sports season won’t start until at least Sept. 1, leaving all county athletes and coaches to play the waiting game a while longer.

“I’m not surprised at all that he (Gerard) was out there working in the heat,” first-year Washington football coach Perry Owens said. “He was All-Area at linebacker for us last year, and he’ll be on the field for us a lot this fall in some capacity, whenever we get started.”

Whenever is the key word to a question that has no answer right now. All area schools are in Phase I of summer conditioning and workouts for fall athletes, while each school (and each sport) decides how often they want to meet, up to a weekly maximum of five times.

“We’ve been out here three days a week since June 16,” Owens said. “We are all ready to get back to preparing for a season, but our most important job as coaches is to create a safe environment for our players. We’ve made them answer 10 health-related questions before each workout, and we take their temperature. The State Association has done a great job under very difficult circumstances so far, and we will continue to follow their guide.”

Pam Pack athletes have gone through agility drills, old fashioned calisthenics and some drills that the coaches came up with, trying to get back in shape after missing spring practice.

“The big plus from these Phase I drills is that we get to lay eyes on our kids three days a week,” Owens said. “We couldn’t do that in the spring because the building was closed. We’ve had great spirit and energy at the workouts, and the players are trying to be patient. I am confident there will be a season at some point, and we will be ready whenever it’s time.”

Southside head coach Jeff Carrow is taking a similar approach. The Seahawks have been working out once a week for the last three weeks or so and plan to ramp up the frequency in mid-August.

“It’s weird not being able to touch the football,” Carrow said. “However, the kids have adapted well, and we’ve had good attendance at our sessions. It gives all our fall athletes something to look forward to during the week, and their attitudes have been really good so far.”

All the area teams and coaches realize they probably will play fewer games since formal practices won’t start until at least Sept. 1. If the COVID-19 virus is still not under control, all bets are off.

“Our guys know some football is better than no football,” Carrow said. “They are anxious to start, but also understand that their safety comes first. We’ll keep working and hope for the best.”