Union Pines defeats Pinecrest, 3-0

Fans look on a non-conference volleyball match between the Union Pines and the Pinecrest in 2018. Fans will be limited to indoor and outdoor sporting events as NCHSAA sports begins on Monday.

As high school sports for public high schools in North Carolina is set to begin on Monday, there will be a different look when volleyball and cross country teams compete for the first time.

With that, athletic directors and other school officials have been forced to deal with logistical changes that have come down in the final days of the preseason from the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

Here’s what we know now will be what the opening matches and meets will look like to start off the athletic year

Attendance

With Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement this week that indoor gatherings would be limited to 10 people. For the first time in the pandemic, the NCHSAA did not fall in line with the governor’s executive order, given that the recent update was more considered for in-home family gatherings around the holidays.

On Wednesday the NCHSAA said it will stick with the indoor attendance limits that were put in place earlier this month for 25 spectators indoors.

While the attendance will be much smaller, and spaced out in the main gym at all three high schools, expect the direct family of players, especially upperclassmen, to have claim over most tickets, which will be purchased online prior to the game as no cash will be used to purchase tickets at the game.

Getting a ticket for an away game seems to be nearly impossible as well.

Those planning on attending will have to follow local guidelines set by the school’s athletic department when it comes to spacing out in the stands, wearing proper face coverings and pass all the COVID-19 protocols to get into the gym.

For those wanting to see cross country meets in person, the number of fans allowed outdoors remains at 100 people, and will be asked to space out along the trail to keep social distancing standards.

Fans will not be allowed to stay in the gym for both JV and varsity matches. After each contest, the gyms will be cleared to properly sanitize before the varsity teams and fans can come in.

All three high schools are currently in the process of purchasing video equipment that will be installed in the gyms and main playing fields that will allow fans to purchase a subscription to stream the games virtually.

The Players

Thursday another major change occurred at the state level as all indoor sporting events, practices and workouts will require all athletes to wear masks.

This is a change from previous guidelines from the state where only athletes sitting on the sidelines were required to wear a mask.

And much like the statewide mask mandate, athletes that have proper medical documentation.

These changes came from the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and were mentioned Thursday during the COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

"Something like volleyball, where there is space between players, but volleyball as you know is played indoors, we already recommend that the athletes wear a face covering if it can be tolerated," she said. "I support wearing face coverings when at all possible, particularly for something like volleyball where you are indoors."

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 692-7271 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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