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Fall sports return; athletes, coaches ‘excited’ to compete

Fall sports for high school athletes will be back in session after a 20-month hiatus last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still in the midst of the pandemic, the landscape of prep athletics will look a little different this season, but all involved will tell you they’re happy to be back and are ready to get out there and compete.

“I can tell you this, no one is more excited than the kids right now,” said boys tennis coach Rachelle Huxford. “After not being able to play last season, I’ve never seen a group of boys so excited to get out there and practice. We’re grateful to have a season and hopefully play to the end.”

Officially starting Aug. 19, the fall sports season is scheduled for full session, with playoffs and state championship games currently on the schedule.

Able to play spring sports last school year, state championship games between the South and North regions were canceled to due to travel concerns.

“As of right now we’re being told that we can play a full season,” Huxford said. “We host state this season for tennis, so I’m assuming the North will be willing to travel. We’re very hopeful we can compete and have a true season.”

While having a full season at least for now looks to be on the table, it does come with rules and regulations under the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association’s COVID-19 guidelines.

On Friday, Aug. 6, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association announced plans to follow the state’s new rules for face coverings during fall high school sporting events as well as updated COVID-19 testing under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signing of Emergency Directive 048.

While the state has recently reinstated a mask mandate for all indoor activities, Donnie Nelson, NIAA interim executive director, said the association will not require “a team’s game-eligible student-athlete” to wear a mask while in the game or on the bench for girls volleyball, fall’s only indoor sport. Coaches, managers, game officials and fans must follow the COVID-19 guidelines and wear a mask.

For outdoors sports — cross-country, football, soccer and tennis — players, coach and spectators will not be required to wear face masks during the games under the NIAA’s current guidelines.

“We’re getting updates hourly on how to handle this situation,” said football coach Chris Morelli. “Right now this is what we know, but that could change in the coming days or weeks. We’re just ready to play football and follow whatever rules we need to.”

For football, fall’s only full and close contact sport, the NIAA will require weekly COVID-19 testing for team members, coaches and associated staff and volunteers who are not fully vaccinated.

“With testing every week, we’re doing everything we can to keep our kids safe and on the field,” Morelli said. “We’re separating kids in the locker room, on the field. We trying to keep as much social distance as possible, so we don’t have any positive test.”

It is unclear at this time whether Clark County School District will set its own guidelines regarding masks and COVID-19 testing. For now however, Boulder City High School athletics prep for the season with a current plan in place, eager to get back to compete.

Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.

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