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Pinecrest football players work out with coach Chris Metzger in a preseason practice in 2019.

After a nearly a month-long hiatus from athletic workouts, student-athletes at all three Moore County high schools will return to the practice fields Monday.

The biggest change for the teams working out is the number of athletes that will be allowed to share the field and court together. Following Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement of Phase 2.5 last week, the new guidelines from the N.C. High School Athletic Association allows outdoor workouts to have 50 participants at each workout, and 25 indoors.

All three high school athletic directors ironed out the details on Friday to clear the way to return to workouts after school next week. The athletic directors elected to follow the new phase guidelines with the restart this coming week.

“I think we’ve got a good plan for our athletes to get back out there,” Pinecrest’s Jeff Hewitt said. “The county and Dr. Seth Powers has done an unbelievable job of getting us the PPEs and the other supplies that we will need in a timely manner.”

The decision to take a break from workouts that resumed in Moore County on Aug. 3 came when the NCHSAA announced its revised schedule for the 2020-2021 sports seasons on Aug. 12.

“When the state came out with the revised schedule, we decided that we needed to pump the breaks and hit the pause button with the schedule being pushed back,” Hewitt said. “We have had time off to get stuff in place and ready to roll.”

When the schools were working out before the break, the maximum players allowed to participate in outdoor workouts was 25 and 10 indoors.

With the adjusted schedule, all NCHSAA member schools also had a mandatory dead period the first five days of school.

Now with the official start of high school sports in the state set for November for volleyball and cross country and students on campus on alternate days, the county schools are easing back into the resumption of sports.

“After sitting around here for a couple months and nobody here, everything is busy now. I like it busy,” North Moore AD Chris Coble said. “We have had a plan in place since mid-April just for what we did this summer. Safety is our number one concern for all the athletes and coaches. The good thing about it is that when we come back we will have already done all the protocols before and we have the plan down pat.”

North Moore has had to deal with storage issues in its gym as construction is ongoing for the new auxiliary gym on campus that will adjoin the current gym.

Even though the plan has been set for athletes to resume workouts, there was extra logistical work the athletic directors had to plan for with nearly every sport holding workouts with limited space and time.

“The county has done a good job of staggering the practice schedules,” Union Pines AD Chad Hill said. “Some of the sports share fields, coaches and athletes and they have done a good job to make it work.”

Per the NCHSAA’s guidelines for Phase 2 of returning to sports, sharing of equipment will be limited to players in specific pods.

Due to the alternate-day school schedule, teams could be divided up based on the day the athletes were at school.

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