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W.Va. Winter Sports Practices To Start Feb. 14

By CODY TOMER

Sports Writer

WHEELING — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced on Monday that high school winter sports (basketball, wrestling and swimming) may return to practice on Feb. 14 and games can begin as soon as March 3.

Teams must get 14 practices in before participating in any games.

Justice also stated that red counties on the COVID color-coded map are not permitted to participate.

New map metrics will be released on Wednesday for the upcoming season — but there will be a season.

“We’re really excited to finally get an opportunity to practice and get together,” Magnolia boys’ basketball coach Dave Tallman said. “Especially for our seniors. It’s been a tough ordeal for them. That’s who I was worried for the most.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride and I understand the seriousness of the pandemic. I can’t even describe the emotions of what people have gone through.

“The big thing is what society has gone through. When people lose a loved one and they aren’t able to be with them — that’s a tragedy.

“But, the timing is great. With vaccines coming out. My wife had hers Friday and I am having mine this week and we’ll be ready to get back to normal.”

The players on the Wheeling Park girls’ basketball team have been eagerly awaiting a start date for the season. Finally, coach Ryan Young has the chance to offer them the good news.

“The kids need to be back,” Young said. “They constantly want to know updates on it and I can’t give it to them.

“Hopefully this will stick. It’s sort of hesitant to be fully in when (Gov. Justice) has changed his mind so much but I think with the vaccine rolling out, hopefully it can stick.”

Young is also happy to make adjustments for kids who may play a winter and spring sport, if the two overlap.

“We, as coaches, have to do the best we can to help the kids,” Young said. “We have girls who play softball and run track. The kids need as much opportunity as they can get and we, as adults, have to do everything we can to make it happen. We’ll play four or five games a week. Just give these kids an opportunity to do what they’ve worked their whole lives for.”

Some may say that sports is not a priority during these trying times, but for many, it’s the future.

“I know some people say ‘it’s just sports’ but there are opportunities being missed like college opportunities,” Young said. “Look at our football team. Our quarterback (Beau Heller) didn’t play until this year and now he is getting college opportunities. What if we have a girl like that who could have a chance to play in college?

“I’d rather have a chance to maneuver schedules around than nothing at all. We’ll deal with that. Just give these kids a chance.”

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