GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - We’ve gone nearly nine months without high school sports, but the games resumed on Monday.
It marked the first day that the VHSL permitted basketball teams to begin competition and, while many of our area squads will wait until the new year to tip off their schedules, Goochland didn’t waste any time.
The Bulldogs hosted Fluvanna on Monday afternoon to get things going, as the familiar sights and sounds of high school basketball returned, after months of not knowing whether a season would occur.
“It’s therapeutic for our guys, it’s therapeutic for us as coaches, and for our community,” said Bulldogs head coach Preston Gordon.
A lot of those sights and sounds surrounding the game were the same as before- whistles, squeaking shoes, buzzers, the dribbling of basketballs. However, some differences were present as well, as the pandemic altered some of the rules and safety procedures.
“It’s a lot going on. There’s no jump ball and that’s tough,” noted Gordon. “There are different aspects of the game that are changing just a little bit. Captains aren’t meeting at the beginning of the game. It’s the coaches.”
“We actually have assigned seats (on the bench) so for that game, we couldn’t switch seats,” senior guard Kameron Holman pointed out. “When we get water the coaches come around with hand sanitizer and clean off the balls every time we take a break so they make sure everything is clean.”
In Goochland’s gym, the traditional noises echo just a little bit more than usual. Instead of the normalcy of an excited and cheering crowd, the bleachers sit mostly empty, as the school is not allowing spectators in for games. Only school administrators and J-V players occupied the stands on Monday afternoon. Fans of the Bulldogs can catch a live stream on the internet, but their presence is missed by those on the court.
“I’m just so used to the crowd being here,” said Holman. This is one of the first games I’ve played with no crowd so it’s definitely different, but I know they’re still watching.”
“The energy that we need to have from our bench, the energy that we need to have, like our J-V guys are able to watch the game, that we need from them... those are our fans,” added Gordon.
There are some sacrifices, but all that the players and coaches are willing to make for a chance at a season. As of Monday, 40 high schools across the commonwealth had cancelled winter sports so a shot at a season means more than normal.
“It definitely makes me appreciate it a lot more being able to be out here and play,” said Holman. “Some schools got their whole season cancelled.”
“I don’t know how many public schools are playing right now, but we need to be thankful for our administration and our county and our school system that’s allowing us to do this,” Gordon remarked.
Goochland fell short on the scoreboard on Monday afternoon, as the Flucos went on for an 89-64 victory, but the chance for the Bulldogs to play the game they love might be considered a win in itself.
“I was asked ‘what’s success look like for this year, this season?,’” said Gordon. “It’s already successful because we’re able to be out here.”
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