In about a week or so, the leaves on the trees in the Shenandoah Valley, as well in the mountains, will begin their transformation, turning from green to yellow, then orange and, in some cases, a bright red.
Under normal circumstances, watching these changes of colors can be exciting.
But this fall, the changing of colors takes on a much different meaning – when it comes to high school athletics across the Mountain State.
Under the color-coded COVID-19 protocol map, established by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources regarding how public schools may proceed with athletic activities, basically, counties in green and yellow may have these activities with proper health safeguards and some restrictions in place.
A change to orange (heightened community transmission) puts a hold on all games. Only conditioning would be permitted. Going red (substantial community transmission) shuts everything down, other than remote learning in the school systems.
At the moment, Jefferson County has a yellow status, one of 21 counties in the state with that designation. It’s a color which is being watched very closely by athletic directors, coaches and athletes because any kind of a substantial uptick in cases could push the county back into orange.
“We are taking it one match at a time, one week at a time,” Jefferson girls soccer coach Heather Andrew said. “It’s definitely changed the way in how we coach and plan how we move forward. We could be shut down again at any time.”
Getting back out on the field for an actual match, with real competition, has been the best thing, mentally, for the Cougars, Andrew said. After about six months of being confined at home, with limited travel away from home, Jefferson was ready to go.
The Cougars went to 3-1 last Thursday with a 10-0 home win over Hedgesville. Jefferson raced to a 6-0 lead at halftime and never looked back.
“We amped it up for this match,” Cougars’ senior Hailey Dillow said. “We really enjoyed getting out there with each other, working hard, enjoying the match.”
Dillow said everyone: players, coaches and parents, are closely watching the COVID-19 situation, watching the map’s colors, hoping Jefferson County stays yellow on the map or, better yet, turns green. The Cougars want to keep playing as long as they can, Dillow said.
“It was good to get back out on the court,” Marie Chrisman, a senior outside hitter for Jefferson’s volleyball team, said last Thursday following the Cougars’ home match with Hedgesville.
The Cougars (0-2) dropped a 3-0 decision to the Eagles, but for Chrisman and her teammates, it’s time to savor every moment of this season, one which is on a match-to-match schedule, under the circumstances.
Glen Simpson, Washington’s football coach, said getting out on the field for a game has been a blessing.
“This is great therapy for these guys,” Simpson said, following the Patriots’ 40-6 win over Berkeley Springs last Friday at Washington. It was the first win of the season for the Patriots (1-1).
Simpson said the fact the team was able to hold conditioning workouts over the summer was a big boost, especially to overall team morale. Working out at home might be nice, but there’s no substitute for hanging out with teammates, practicing and just having fun.
“We feel blessed to be out here, being able to play the game, under these circumstances,” Washington senior Frankie Amore, who scored six touchdowns in last Friday’s win, said. “The guys are really working hard.”
With a second week of sports successfully completed, Jefferson County high school sports teams remain hopeful they can continue with another week of events...and another week...and another.
All the while hoping any changing of colors would be just the leaves on the trees, more fun to watch and a lot prettier.