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Schools get OK to open; training for fall sports to get underway

Finally experiencing a win for high school athletics during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Southern Nevada will be allowed to open this week, under new direction from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Sisolak’s announcement Tuesday, June 9, ended a nearly three-month closure of high school athletics that saw the spring season canceled entirely and left several summer programs scrambling.

“These guys are fired up to get back out on the field,” football coach Chris Morelli said. “I do a Zoom meeting with some of our older players every week and they’re ready to go. Even our incoming freshmen are excited for the upcoming season. I have parents emailing me all the time to not forget about them during this pandemic. It’s great that this is finally happening and we can start getting back to normal or at least what will be the new normal for now.”

As of Wednesday, June 10, practice facilities and weight rooms can open for the first time this summer, but there will be several restrictions and precautions in place.

For any facilities that do reopen, social distancing guidelines must be followed at all times. In a plan presented by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, which governs school sports, facilities must not exceed either 50 percent of total capacity or 50 participants in a single session.

Guidelines also call for screening athletes and coaches prior to workouts and practices, and wearing face masks throughout each session at all times.

“Our staff is certainly not taking this lightly,” Morelli said. “We want to do everything we can to ensure that not only our players and coaching staff are safe, but our families as well. There’s going to be a lot of sanitation. Constant wiping down of all gym equipment and our football equipment daily. Everything that we touch, we’re going to make sure everything gets sanitized properly.”

“We’re going to try to social distance as much as possible as well and follow the guidelines,” Morelli said. “We’re going to break the kids into groups and separate them as much as possible to eliminate the contact. As far as running full offense, full defense, we’re not really sure how that will work out, but the coaches and I have been trying to come up with a couple of ideas to adjust so we’re still able to get the maximum amount of practice in.”

Eager and excited to get their kids back out on the field, Morelli and girls volleyball coach Kurt Bailey are wasting little time taking advantage of the new update, both hoping to get their kids practicing next week.

“Our goal is to be practicing next Monday and possibly get the kids in the weight room on Thursday or Friday,” Morelli said. “We just need to make sure we’re following all the guidelines.”

Bailey said he has also been made aware of the precautions needed to be taken and is willing to implement whatever he has to in order to get his three-time defending 3A state champions back out on the court.

“We’re looking to get the girls back in the gym as early as next week after our gym floor is done being resurfaced,” he said. “I’d like to implement the precautions we have to follow and get in there and get going. I know our girls are hungry to compete.”

With summer practices back in full swing, the next development in the COVID-19 pandemic is how will this affect the upcoming season for fall programs. While teams are currently set to get back together, the question lingers in the air at the moment.

“It’s definitely possible that this pandemic affects games in the fall,” Morelli said. “It would certainly break our heart if any one team has to shut down and self-quarantine themselves for two weeks because of an outbreak. That would completely change the whole season. How would you have a state championship with a team who hasn’t played for a few weeks? Unfortunately, I think in one way or another this will hamper our season in some capacity, but right now we’re just preparing as if we’re going to get a full season of play in.”

Ready and eager to get back out on the tennis courts, boys head coach Rachelle Huxford said she hopes to get her two-time defending 3A state champions back out there immediately no matter what the cost is.

“There’s a lot of rules and guidelines put in place for when we return, but the nice thing is that tennis can lend itself to social distancing,” Huxford said. “We can wear face masks, we can mark individual balls. I am just happy that the kids can get out there and do something. They are all ready to be among their peers again and want some sort of normalcy in their lives, even if this is our new normal.”

Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.

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