Preparing for sports

Louisa County High School Athletic Director George Stanley has been working tirelessly to prepare for the return of high school athletics.

As athletic director for Louisa County High School, George Stanley is in charge of finding referees for games, arranging transportation to and from events and scheduling when events are going to happen, among other things.

This year, he has the additional duty making sure there are protocols in place for the safety of coaches and athletes during practices and games.

“Athletics are embedded in Louisa County. It’s a part of day-to-day life in this community,” he said. “I’m all about the opportunity to compete even though things will operate quite differently than what we are accustomed to.”

Guided by the return to participation protocols that the Virginia High School League put out last month, Stanley and the other athletic directors in the Jefferson District have been collaborating to come up with guidelines for games and practices in hopes of making the upcoming seasons as safe as possible. 

Louisa’s athletes and coaches will have their temperature taken before every practice and game. They will also have to fill out a daily health survey, and the information from that and the temperature readings are being filed with the athletic department each day to keep records in case there is a need for contact tracing.

Per the VHSL guidelines, athletes and coaches are required to wear masks when not actively participating in competitions. Once tryouts are concluded, players will be provided a mask free of charge by the school as part of their equipment for the season.

All equipment will be cleaned as often as possible during practices and games, and cleaning supplies have been provided to the coaches for this purpose.

“We are not playing around with these expectations,” Stanley said in a video outlining the protocols posted to the Louisa County Public Schools YouTube channel on Nov. 27. “We are being thorough and vigilant. We want these seasons to happen and we want these kids and coaches to have opportunities to compete.”

The guidelines for high school athletics have already changed several times. When the VHSL first issues their protocols, crowd size was limited to 250 people or half of an arena’s maximum occupancy.

In the weeks since, Governor Ralph Northam has implemented new restrictions, including limiting attendance at athletic events to 25 people for indoor events and two guests per player at outdoor games. As a result, the decision among the Jefferson District athletic directors was to not allow spectators at the games and only admit players, coaches, officals and other essential personnel.

But there is a plan in place.The district schools will be streaming all of their home events online this year on the National Federation of State High School Assosciation’s website. All of the schools in the district will be using this service for their sports this year. Games can be viewed with a subscription, which costs $10.99 per month or $69.99 for a year.

“The easy way out would be to provide no means for people to see our kids in action, but it’s not about doing what’s easy,” Stanley said in the athletics update video. “It’s about doing what’s right, and providing such an opportunity for our community is the right thing to do.”

“I am looking forward to seeing our kids and coaches get an opportunity to compete and for our community to be excited about Louisa athletics again,” Stanley said.

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