When sports open back up, Pickens athletes, coaches will be ready
With last week’s delay of school openings in Pickens County, fall athletics across the county were paused for the time being. This was part of an effort by the county to ensure that all school and athletics facilities would be prepared for a safe start and completely sanitized for our students and athletes. This was a setback for all of the fall sports heading into their upcoming seasons, but an issue that numerous programs across the state have had to endure since athletic workouts resumed in June. Fall sports include football, softball, cross-country and volleyball and are played at the high school and junior high levels in Pickens County.
The delay has affected each program differently. Football was three days into what is known as the acclimation period. This is a period of five consecutive practices in which players can only be equipped with helmets. When activities resume the team will have two more days of acclimation left to complete. While the pause has definitely affected the football team, the GHSA recently pushed back the start of games two weeks. This means that baring any additional setbacks the team should be up and ready for their first scrimmage against West Hall on August 28th. The Junior High team has also had to adjust to these uncertain times. According to Jr. High Head Coach Sam Wigington, “If we are going to be able to play this year, we are going to have to be very adaptable to the current situation. Our kids, parents, and coaches have done an outstanding job of being flexible. Unfortunately, this is our new norm for now.”
The softball team was set to host a tournament to begin the season, but the current situation has required its rescheduling. The team will look to add games back to the schedule once the season is given a green light. When asked about the climate of fall sports, Head Softball Coach Sarah Pinson stated, “There is a lot of uncertainty right now across the country right now. We talk at the end of every practice about what we can control and what we can do to keep each other safe. We want a season for our girls, but more importantly we want them to be safe on and off the field.”
Volleyball and cross-country have also felt the effects of the delay. Volleyball has canceled their opening scrimmage and first two matches of the season. The players are continuing to work individually off campus. Coach Karina Haney says team activities have transitioned into, “Working on specific skills at home as well as virtual workouts. We are touching base with the girls daily and working on becoming a team.”
The cross-country athletes have been running on their own outside of the Pickens campus facilities. Cross-country is a team activity, but it does allow individualized training. The team has been overcoming adversity throughout the summer, and will be ready when meets are allowed this fall.
As this week progresses, the Department of Health will continue to meet with officials on the county level, as well as with the GHSA. There should be some more clarity as to when fall sports will resume within the county as the week progresses. One thing is for sure, whenever sports open back up in Pickens County the athletes and coaches in the system will be ready to compete.