Basketball tryouts began Monday in Prince William County with administrators, players and coaches happy to be together as they attempt to embark on a season like no other.

Despite new sanitation practice protocols, the resurgence of COVID-19 has observers wondering if the first games scheduled for Dec. 21 will happen. Around the state many school districts have pushed back winter sports or canceled them.

“Fingers crossed,” said cautiously optimistic Unity Reed activities director Kevin Turner after one day of tryouts. 

“Many students are in surprisingly good condition, but others need work. We are currently doing no-contact drills so that could potentially delay some of the first games,” he said.

Turner reported lower basketball turnout on Monday, especially with the girls’ program, where just 10 girls showed up, although those numbers could increase over the next few days of tryouts. 

“Our participation numbers are down quite a bit. We had about 30 boys eligible for tryouts on the first day and another six planning to come out Tuesday,” he said.

Unity Reed will host boys varsity and JV basketball and girls varsity basketball.

Basketball is the first of the winter sports to start with the 14-game regular-season schedule beginning Monday, Dec. 21. Practices for wrestling, gymnastics, indoor track, wrestling and sideline cheer begin Monday, Dec. 14.

New sanitation protocols

Prince William County Public Schools issued its own sanitation-heavy guidelines last week for basketball, which include no contact or scrimmaging, with players participating in groups of no more than five players. 

Balls are being disinfected and players instructed to use an individual ball for individual drills. Coaches must wear masks at all times at practice, while players must wear masks on the sidelines. Contact is expected to increase to light contact going forward.

Other protocols include no use of locker rooms or classrooms. There will be a thorough disinfecting of everything in the gym between the end of one team’s practice and the start of another. 

Prince William County and the City of Manassas will prohibit fans from athletic events at their schools.

20 districts cancel

According to the Virginia High School League, 20 school divisions out of 132 in the state and 37 public schools out of 318 have canceled their winter sports season.

The City of Alexandria is the only Northern Virginia school district to cancel winter sports, but locally the City of Winchester and Frederick County have delayed official tryouts for all five programs until Jan. 4. Fauquier County has pushed back a week to Dec. 14.

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