While last year is lost, athletes around the state can begin looking forward to the next.
During his coronavirus briefing Friday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that summer youth events including little league, various other baseball leagues and youth soccer can begin practicing on June 8 with the ability to resume games coming on June 22.
"These are low contact youth sports and that's the way it will be," Justice said when singling out those sports.
Justice also announced spectators will be allowed at outdoor sporting events when they resume on June 22 provided mandatory social distancing guidelines are followed.
Youth sports weren't the only ones to receive good news from the governor. He also announced that West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission-sanctioned sports would be allowed to resume activities provided they follow guidelines set by the organization
"Our medical experts now agree it is safe to allow the WVSSAC-sanctioned middle and high school athletics and bands to hold their summer training programs beginning on Monday, June 8. I've worked very closely with the SSAC. They've done great work."
The WVSSAC sent out a list of recommendations and guidelines for how to approach the offseason, breaking it down into three different phases with the third including the 3-week summer practice period. Throughout, participants will be encouraged to wear face masks and have sanitizers on site.
"The SSAC has tried to develop a plan," Justice said. "They're concerned about kids' conditioning so the plan is in different phases. Phase one and two are a conditioning deal where you bring kids in and you're just doing conditioning and you're staying a distance from one another. They have added we need to make every effort we can to do all of the indoor stuff possible outside if we can do that. They've limited the conditioning to an hour a day. Sports that are contact sports like football, wrestling and cheering ... the sports with true contact, they're going to shove them off but they're going to allow activities in groups of 10."
While Phase One would aim to work athletes back into shape, Phase Two will build off that by loosening restrictions and extending practice time. The third phase would loosen restrictions even more, giving teams up to three hours of practice time a day during the 3-week period, designated by county. Unfortunately for high contact sports, what they can do will be limited.
Sports such as football, cheering, etc. will be encouraged to focus on non-contact or individual drills.
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