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High school coaches guide teams through another pandemic sports season

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT
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SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA, N.C. (WECT) - The West Brunswick football team is the latest in a string of high school sports programs that have had to pause practices and postpone games due to positive COVID-19 cases.

Coaches are trying to keep team morale high and make sure that players are following safety guidelines, but teams have already had to miss games.

The New Hanover and West Columbus football teams missed their opening games last Friday due to COVID-19, and the volleyball programs at Trask and Pender high schools were shut down this week.

“I thought we were going to be back to normal but, you know, that’s not the case right now,” said La Monte Williamson, head football coach at West Columbus High School.

A positive case on Williamson’s team meant they could not open the season last Friday against Wake Christian Academy.

“At the end of practice I told them, you know, ‘I coach you guys in football but also I’m coaching the game of life’ and in life, things happen, so we’re just gonna have to make adjustments,” said Williamson.

The Pender volleyball team also had to shut down last week when one player tested positive. Coach Matt Davis wants his players to be ready for these kinds of disappointments.

“There’s gonna be bumps in the road, people are going to have to miss — a game might be canceled or our entire program might have to be shut down, but we’re gonna pick back up and try and make the best of it,” said Davis.

Coaches are guiding players through it while trying to lift the team’s spirits.

“Unfortunately, high school kids sometimes can be cruel and we don’t want that to ever come back because, like I said earlier, you can be responsible, you could’ve done everything like you’re supposed to and still end up on the wrong side of this,” said Davis. “And we don’t want that to be the case where there’s any blow back on anybody that’s tested positive and that’s become a stigma.”

Williamson and Davis say because of the pandemic, this fall sports season will be another test of perseverance and teamwork.

“I’m coaching kids,” said Williamson. “They are human and they all want to play football but they know we’ve got to stick together as a team and, you know, things happen.”

Pender volleyball is set to play Wednesday against Wallace Rose-Hill. West Columbus football hopes to play its game against West Bladen on Monday.

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