Fall sports training and conditioning came to a screeching halt Friday when the Liberty County School System announced it was suspending all fall athletics and extracurricular activities.
Friday’s statement read:
“The safety of the Liberty County School System students is a priority that we take seriously. After careful review of COVID-19 trends in and around the surrounding areas and in the state of Georgia, we have determined that it is no longer feasibly safe to continue fall athletic activities. As a result, all Liberty County School System fall sports and extra-curricular activities are suspended until further notice.”
The Coastal Health District reports do show that the number of positive COVID-19 cases has spiked significantly the past two months but the number of reported deaths has remained at two.
Friday evening the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a public forum with LCSS Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry, several members of the School Board and central office employees. During the forum, livestreamed on Facebook, Dr. Perry and Board Chair Lily Baker said the decision was made in the best interest of the students, staff and educators.
“After looking at where we are with the virus and knowing what we have been told to do to minimize the spread, we really can’t do that if we are running a sports program,” Dr. Perry said. “We can’t social distance if we have 80 kids in a locker room.”
Liberty County High School Head football coach Kirk Warner said he knew there was a chance that fall sports would be cancelled.
“Especially with the COVID-19 numbers steadily rising,” Warner said. “We were consulted and we all agreed that suspending fall sports would be in the best interest of our scholar-athletes at this time.”
Warner said he and his staff will continue virtual training and be ready for what comes next.
“We will continue to encourage scholars to conduct at home workouts and conditioning,” Warner said. “We will meet 2-3 times a week via video conferencing with scholar athletes to go over mental aspects of the game. My staff and I will continue to encourage our scholars to think positive and just continue to prepare on their own and get them mentally ready for virtual school.”
Bradwell Institute football coach Kyle Adkins said he didn’t know that the cancellation of fall sports was being discussed until they got word from Dr. Perry prior to the LCSS make the public announcement. He said he reached out to his players and they plan to work through the issue together.
“We try to impress upon our players to control what you can control,” Adkins said. “Right now, they can control staying in shape and focusing on their virtual learning beginning on August 13. Workouts were emailed out today and I’m confident that the players will be fine. We are all in this together, we will be fine.”
The Tigers newly hired basketball coach Ty Randolph said it was a tough call but he supports it.
“The decision to cancel fall sports as of now was absolutely the right thing to do with numbers on the rise daily,” Randolph said. “We are all hoping and praying this thing can level off and we can get back to normal soon.”
Randolph said it’s been tough not being able to get his players on the court for drills and conditioning.
“We all know these are unique times, but together we will get through it,” he said. “Safety is our number one priority. This virus is serious and taking lives daily. We want to protect the players and everyone during this tough time.”
Randolph added that his team does have a training plan.
“Right now my team and I are doing Virtual workouts,” he said. “They are up daily at 7 a.m. and they have a workout plan that they follow and chart so that I may evaluate their progress. We will also have a zoom team character count session so that we may grow and get to know each other outside the game of basketball which to me is key to any team’s success. We will prepare today for a better tomorrow. This too shall pass.”
During Friday’s NAACP forum LCSS Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Susan Avant said virtual learning does include components for physical fitness to keep students engaged in social and physical activities.
For elementary students Avant said those components will include art, music and physical fitness.
LCSS Executive Director of Student Services Dr. Kathy Moody said they are rolling out the LifeSkills programs for middle and high school students in addition to physical education.
LifeSkills Training is a substance abuse prevention program that teaches students social and self-management skills, including skills in resisting peer and media pressure to smoke, drink, or use drugs, and informs students of the immediate consequences of substance abuse.