ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. (WECT) - The Bladen County Board of Education reversed its decision in a 5-3 vote at a special meeting held Monday afternoon to determine the current school year basketball season for high school athletes.
Student athletes can now participate in competitive basketball following North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) guidelines and protocols.
Last week, the Board voted not to play basketball if masks were required for all players while participating in the games.
Student athletes and parents from across the county came together Friday in a showing of unity at the East Bladen High School gymnasium all wearing shirts that say #letthemplay. The students wanted the school board to reverse its decision not to let them play basketball.
“I feel like their decision directly affects us as players,” said East Bladen senior Katie Evans. “If we’re willing to go out there and play in a mask and our parents are letting us do it, then I feel like we should be able to play.”
“I think we are a tight-knit community and we’re very proud of our high school,” added East Bladen parent Tom Metz. “We want to see these kids get out here and play the sport they love.”
Athletes say that playing with a mask isn’t ideal, but if wearing one means they can play, they’ll mask up.
“You do feel the obstruction at times but...” said Jacob Priest, East Bladen senior, “...but really, as long as your fitness level is high, you’re able to do it without any problem.”
“The North Carolina High School Athletic Association consulted a team of experts and they think it’s feasible to play and I think we should be able to,” added East Bladen senior Jack Sonbostic.
East Bladen Principal Jason Wray supports his students and the way they have gone about getting their message across.
“It makes me so proud,” said Wray. “It makes me so proud that they’re doing this. It tells me that the last five years here they’ve listened to what I’ve told them each and every day and this is the right way to do it.”
WECT reached out to members of the board of education but didn’t get any comments.