Swain volleyball and girls basketball became the school’s first sports of the year to be temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Per an email sent out on Thursday, Dec. 17 by Maroon Devils Sports Information Director Toby Burrell, a positive test by one of the athletes led to contact tracing, which revealed a web of contacts that included other female athlete.
“Because of this factor and concern for the overall safety and wellbeing of our athletes and coaches, Swain High will suspend volleyball and women’s basketball until what time the athletes can be cleared to resume activities in the safest possible manner for all concerned,” read the press release.
Girls basketball coach Michael Turner said that while disappointed, he is keeping things in perspective and believes the suspension is a small price to pay for the current and future wellbeing of his players.
“Right now, safety always comes first for our players, our coaches, and everybody,” said Turner on Friday. “It’s a necessary thing to do for the safety of all people involved because although we think this game is important, the health of an individual is way more important over the span of their lifetime than missing a few practices.”
Turner noted that the unique structure of the 2020-2021 NCHSAA athletic calendar makes a positive test even more of a challenge, especially at a smaller school like Swain where so many athletes play multiple sports.
“I think the difficult part is that the way the season is constructed right now, we have so much overlap,” he said. “It doesn’t just affect one team, it affects volleyball and basketball because both teams are in season, which is pretty rare. Normally it would just be one team, and you kind of get through it, but right now we share so many of the same athletes. So, it’s difficult.”
Those basketball and volleyball players who are able to will take part in online Zoom conditioning meetings, and Turner plans to send out an additional conditioning program for his players to complete on their own.
“It’s not necessarily the X’s and O’s that’s the hardest part when you come back from a break, it’s the conditioning,” said Turner. “You really can’t do X’s and O’s too much if you can’t get down the floor, so we’ve got a conditioning program that we are going to work along with volleyball.”