Parents, students hold “Let Them Play” rally asking for a return to high school sports

Local Sports

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Holly Wiles is a football parent and her son, Billy, is supposed to be playing his senior season at Stone Bridge High School in Loudon County. But the Virginia High School League previously voted to delay sports, putting things on hold.

With Virginia not playing any sports, Wiles sees other states in their normal high school routines and thinks the time has come for Virginia to follow.

“We’re the majority,” said Wiles, noting how families she has spoken with don’t agree with the delay in high school sports.

This is why Wiles organized a rally at the Virginia State Capitol, hoping to send a message to state leaders and the VHSL. But a tragic accident also helped lead her to this moment.

“A bunch of football players in our neighborhood were swimming in a creek, when they normally would’ve been at football practice, and one of them drowned,” said Wiles. “That crushed our community.”

Wiles notes that some students could be losing out on college scholarships because high school sports in Virginia are not playing. Centerville High School senior Chris Kuzemka understands this first hand

“I have no offers,” said Chris Kuzemka, who suffered a knee injury last year and missed games. “I just don’t have any film. So people are like we can’t offer you.”

The condensed sports schedule may also impact dual-sport athletes like Kuzemka, who plays football and basketball.

“If we do go far in basketball it might conflict a little bit (in football),” added Kuzemka.

Thursday the VHSL will meet to adopt their Championships + 1 schedule and released the following statement in response to the rally:

We fully understand and support the passion of high school sports from our school communities, parents, and students. From day one, we have been committed to getting our students participating in activities safely and responsibly. There has been a tremendous amount of input and cooperation from principals, superintendents, activity directors, coaches, and members of various communities.

The VHSL and its member schools have worked tirelessly over the past several months to create a plan for our students to participate in VHSL sponsored athletics and activities. Our Executive Committee will meet this Thursday to approve and adopt our “Championships + 1” schedule for the FY 2021 Athletic and Academic Activities season. This schedule provides every VHSL sponsored activity a season during the FY2021 year.

VHSL staff and Executive Committee will continue to work in cooperation the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) to develop a list of recommended guidelines for school divisions as they prepare for the safe reopening of high school sports and activities.

VHSL

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