Richmond Public Schools will not field winter sports this school year

Richmond Public Schools will not field winter sports this school year
John Marshall High School boys basketball team easily captured the Class 3 state championship.

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools will not field any winter sports during the 2020-2021 school year, superintendent Jason Kamras announced on Monday evening.

“Given our decision to go 100 percent virtual for the first semester, and given rapidly rising (COVID-19) infection rates, we will unfortunately not be fielding any teams this winter,” Kamras said in an RPS Direct digital newsletter. “I believe it’s the only option we have if we are to fully honor our commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of our students, families and staff.”

The high schools affected are Armstrong, John Marshall, Huguenot, George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, disappointment set in for student-athletes, coaches and families.

“My biggest frustration is that we had kids that we played in February that, at the time, they were juniors, and at that time we didn’t know that it would be their last game ever playing for Armstrong,” Wildcats head boys' basketball coach Darryl Watts said.

Both Watts and his counterpart at John Marshall, Ty White, are looking to turn this into a lesson for their student-athletes. The head coaches are also focused on being present for their players through the difficult times, checking up on them academically and personally.

“Sports teach life lessons, and so we’re going use this as a life lesson,” White said. “When something doesn’t go your way as a young man, you just make an adjustment and you make a better move.”

“I know it seems bad, but everything will pass,” Watts added. “Yesterday I was encouraged by Dr. Fauci’s statements, so I think we can see some light at the end of the tunnel now.”

VHSL guidelines stipulate that basketball teams can begin practice on December 7, all other winter sports teams on December 14, with competition getting underway on December 21. This decision by RPS impacts basketball, indoor track and field, swimming and diving, gymnastics and wrestling.

Another school system that had made the call to cut sports this winter reversed its decision on Tuesday night. Arlington Public Schools were the first to cancel athletics, but will reinstate all sports except wrestling for the winter.

As for the other districts in the Richmond metro area, school spokespeople filled NBC12 in on Tuesday. Henrico County intends to play. Chesterfield County’s plan “is to review the new VHSL guidelines and the VDOE/VDH information with our local risk management team to see what can be adapted at each school site with our existing programs." Hanover has not made a final decision, but is evaluating every possible option that will allow athletes to compete.

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.

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