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Chesapeake School Board votes to cancel winter sports

Citing a number of factors, each member of the school board voted in favor of the superintendent's recommendation to cancel the winter sports season.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — "We  are not confident that we can implement the same level of mitigation measures that we are able to provide in our schools that we feel are necessary in order to keep our student-athletes safe."

The statement from Chesapeake Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton provided a brief glimmer of hope in conclusion: "We plan to petition the VHSL to provide the opportunity to play winter sports later in the school year, and while we hope that option becomes available, we have not received any indication that it will be granted.” 

The statement came in the form of a recommendation from the superintendent to cancel the winter sports season. Already postponed, the season would have been two weeks long to allow for VHSL required practice time, according to Chesapeake Supervisor of Student Activities Kevin Cole. 

"We just didn't feel like it was practical, we rely on some outside facilities for swimming and gymnastics, trying to get into those facilities of this time was difficult. Indoor track as well, we travel to Newport News to do indoor track. Transportation, the State Health Department, and Chesapeake Health Department we're limited to the number of kids we could put on buses. There were a number of factors," said Cole, touching on the complications that go into such a decision. 

As a sports reporter, rarely do you come across an athletic director without a walkie talkie in their hand. Sean Townsend's walkies sit neatly on a shelf behind his desk. They don't appear to have seen much use in 2021. 

Townsend is a former baseball coach and current athletic director at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake. When he heard the decision, his mind immediately found its way to the kids. 

"I'm disappointed for the kids," he said. "We all went into this to find opportunities for kids."

Yet, that immense disappointment is overwhelmed by his faith in the decision made by the school board. 

"The school system exhausted every possible angle to make it happen. I tell my coaches that coaching strategy and making connections is important, but really, safety and supervision is most important," said Townsend.

The city said the decision on Fall and Spring sports will be made as those seasons approach.