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NJCAA, PHCC to move fall and winter sports to spring semester

NJCAA, PHCC to move fall and winter sports to spring semester

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: July 15 series
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The National Junior College Athletic Association announced Monday it is moving all contact sports originally scheduled for the fall and winter seasons to the spring to avoid problems with spreading COVID-19.

Patrick Henry Community College fields five teams that will be affected: men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball, which will move from fall to spring 2021, and men’s and women’s basketball and the newly created wrestling team, which will begin play in January.

Cross country will be the only sport at PHCC to compete this fall.

The decision to move the fall sports season was following the recommendations from the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council and the NJCAA Board of Regents.

“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” NJCAA President and CEO Christopher Parker said in a release. “Our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”

Spring sports competition – which includes baseball, softball, and outdoor track and field at PHCC – will remain intact with minor adjustments to dates, the NJCAA release said.

PHCC Athletic Director Brian Henderson said by phone Tuesday this was the best decision that could have been made by the NJCAA because it was for the safety of the student athlete first.

“We all wanted sports to come back and play in the fall, but we do understand that it’s really about the health and safety of our student-athletes,” said. “So while they’ll be here in the fall taking class, they’re preparing for their spring seasons. Here at Patrick Henry we just want to make sure we’re still leaving the door open for them to still get that opportunity to get back on the field or court in which they love.”

Henderson said he does not believe there are any two-sport athletes at the school that the season change would affect.

While moving fall sports leaves open the opportunity to reopen recruiting and begin school in the spring, Henderson said he’d prefer for students to still begin in the fall and be on track to graduate in two years.

“Our No. 1 focus is to still get student-athletes into school for the fall because the No. 1 focus is for them to still get their degree in two years,” he said. “While that is an option, our goal is to help make sure that they walk across the stage. It gives us so much more satisfaction that we’ve done our job when not only have they been able to compete on the field but they’re able to get a degree and move on to a 4-year school.”

Henderson said the response to the change has been positive from students and coaches who are all eager to get back on the field as quickly, but as safely, as possible.

PHCC will now field nine sports, all beginning in January.

“It’s going to be very interesting to have all your sports playing at one time,” Henderson said. “It’s going to be tough to manage but I’m looking forward to it. If we can do anything for these young men and women that can bring them some joy in these trying times then that’s something that I’m aiming to do here.

“From what I’m getting from several student-athletes that I‘ve talked to, they’re happy that we’re giving them an opportunity to do something that they love… I definitely want to use sports as an outlet for our young men and women who are dealing with so many issues around the world right now. If we can find a safe way for them to get out there and go by the guidelines from our government and from our governing body of the NJCAA, if this is what happens for them to get out there then we’re going to do our part to make sure that we can do that.”

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

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