Soccer

Halifax County High School goalkeeper Ky’Juan Walker makes a tough save on a play in front of the goal a 2019 Piedmont District game at Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium.

The Virginia High School Leagues released a statement on Wednesday saying that in following the NCAA’s Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition manual they have reclassified soccer as a high-risk contact sport.

Soccer now joins basketball, field hockey, football, lacrosse, volleyball and wrestling as high-risk contact sports.

The manual recently released its third publication and in this version the change was made. It also provides new guidance that is specific to the prevention of community spread of COVID-19 in the athletics setting.

This change affects the models that were presented in last week’s meeting of the VHSL executive committee. Model 2 would switch fall and spring sports. Only low and moderate contact risk sports would be allowed to play in this model. With soccer now reclassified as high-risk, if the VHSL votes on Monday for this model, high school soccer players will lose their season again. Soccer was among those sports canceled back in March when the VHSL canceled all spring sports due to COVID-19.

“This update changes the concept of Model 2 drastically. One of the pros for Model 2 was the fact that it offered the opportunity to get more student-athletes back on the field this fall. Now, both soccer and lacrosse would not be played due to being classified as high contact risk sports, which would eliminate approximately 28,000 student-athletes. This model would leave spring athletes very vulnerable and lacrosse and soccer with the loss of two seasons,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said.

Model 2 and Model 3 seemed to be getting the most attention heading into Monday’s meeting where it is expected the executive committee will make a final decision about high school sports in Virginia this fall and beyond. Before soccer was designated high risk, no spring sports at Halifax County High School would have been affected and that meant that every student athlete at the school would have the opportunity to play a full season of sports if that model was accepted. But with the amount of soccer players that are now affected by this decision, the likelihood that the committee moves to Model 3 becomes greater.

Model 3 pushes back the start of all sports until December when winter sports would begin. Each season would be condensed with approximately 60% of each season being played. It does give the opportunity for every sport to play as long as guidelines allow it.

“Our only objective is to provide as many opportunities to get our student-athletes on the field and courts. We will continue to review the classifications for these sports with our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) of leading health experts with our Executive Committee to provide a healthy and safe environment for those participating in athletics,” Haun added.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV