CHARLESTON — High school athletes across the state of West Virginia will have to continue their off-season training on their own accord.
On Thursday the state board of education passed on a proposal to allow high school coaches the ability to coach their teams year round.
The opinions surrounding this are evenly split. Some can sympathize with the days long ago when all children needed for summer sports and recreation was enough friends to start a game and a place to play. The constituents on the other side of the fence can argue that those days have past and a structured regimen of activities will only help better the athletes chances of improving and reaching success. Although the new rule change would have a semi-different affect for the children of this area, it still affects them no less.
As of right now coaches and athletes are given a three-week time period during the summer to get the feel of the game back and grab an idea of what direction they should move forward with in the upcoming season. This three-week event referred to as “summer conditioning” is completely unique to the state of West Virginia athletics, other programs in surrounding states and across the nation are allowed to practice certain sports during designated periods at different times throughout the year.
It can be scheduled correctly to eliminate over loading of student athletes. Some athletes play multiple sports and that can show as an unnecessary hardship on those student athletes to balance school work and multiple sports. On the other side of the argument if student athletes are left alone to train for a sport without the proper supervision some student athletes can actually do more harm than good.
Here in rural Southern West Virginia the contrast appears between how a year-round training program would benefit or hinder student athletes as opposed to how it would affect students in a more urban setting. There are also different aspects to consider in this area with respect to both football and basketball programs.
Mingo Central Head Football coach Yogi Kinder said that he believes it is a mistake on behalf of the board of education for not even reviewing the rule.
“The three-week period is good, don’t get me wrong , but it does cause problems that the different programs almost have to compete for the kids’ time. Everything is happening at once and that makes it hard for the kids to focus on one thing and gain much from that time,” said Kinder.
“Because of the current status of the local economy, those student athletes who have big dreams of gaining a possible scholarship through sports are limited in potential through this off time. This really puts us behind other states and other programs that are able to work with the kids throughout the year and keep them focused and on track for a chance at something better.
“That is one of the big reasons we have problems getting kids scholarships in this area , theses kids around here have the talent to compete with the best in the nation our problem is not allowing them the opportunity to grow like they can as athletes,” added kinder
Tug Valley head football coach Tony Clusky leans toward the other side of the debate.
“A lot of these kids at our school play more than one sport, and I believe that could load to much on to them, all of our coaches have done really well at scheduling around the three-week period we get, ” said Clusky.
That side can be validated also. Student athletes are in fact students first, extra curricular activities are meant to assist in education, teaching the lessons in life that are hard taught through words on a page.
Mingo Central assistant football coach Joey Fields offered a similar but more current line of reasoning to head coach Kinder.
“I can remember how it was back when I played, back then I thought summers were for laying around and taking it easy , now I can see why we were pushed like we was. Too much time off can really hinder an athlete’s performance,” said Fields.
Football and basketball programs have to work closely throughout this time period. Basketball gains an advantage during this time because of the basics of the sport. Four people can practice basketball or 10 people can practice basketball and the practice is still majorly beneficial to the athlete. There are numerous ways for athletes to compete throughout the off-season on the basketball court. The local Express AAU basketball team is one such example.
Mingo Central head basketball coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson took a more median stance on the issue.
“I wish we could practice year round but I understand why we can’t, in this area it is harder on athletes than it is for athletes in the city because of the distance we have to travel to play other teams, the three week period we have to work with is hard on the kids but us coaches work well with each other to help make it easier for them,” Thompson said.
“The state board of education did not specify if the motion to review was pushed back until a later date or if the motion would required more evidence to support the benefits of the rule change. The board rejected the proposal in an effort to further the study of the options regarding this subject that the state would have.