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Bluestone conditioning begins; PV set to start soon / October 28, 2020
Bluestone student-athletes began conditioning sessions last Wednesday in accordance with the Mecklenburg County School Board’s vote to allow workouts to resume Oct. 21.

Students have been thrilled to return and Bluestone athletic director Justin Kirkland said though there are challenges, things have been going well.

“We started conditioning Wednesday of last week, boys basketball kicked us off,” Kirkland said. “Football conditioned Thursday. Yesterday, girls’ basketball kicked off, as well as wrestling; boys’ basketball also conditioned after the girls. Baseball will begin today, and football will continue today and Thursday.”

Kirkland went on to explain how workouts are scheduled throughout the week. He also noted some of the restrictions in place.

“Our schedule is as follows: Mondays and Wednesdays – girls basketball 4-5 p.m., wrestling 4-5 p.m., boys basketball 5:15-6:15 p.m.,” he said. “There is a 20-person limit on indoor workouts (gym or weight room); if an athlete is turned away due to capacity limits on Monday, they will participate on Wednesday and vice versa. Tuesdays and Thursdays - baseball and football (no limit on outdoor activities). Cross country and track will begin Nov. 5. All other sports will begin at a later date.”

Average numbers of student-athletes working out have been very positive with boys basketball averaging 15, girls basketball at 7, and wrestling and football with four participants.

George Lancaster, head coach of varsity boys basketball, said he and the team are enjoying being able to prepare for a new season. He also spoke of the team’s adherence to COVID-19 guidelines to make sure every precaution is being taken to protect all involved from contracting the coronavirus.

“They are very excited and very interested in what we are trying to teach them under these circumstances,” Lancaster said. “We’ve got a good 20 kids in the gym concentrating on conditioning, agility, and flexibility. We are in the Green Stage, however each player has a ball for the entire workout session. We are within the guidelines of the Virginia High School League.”

Kirkland expanded on Lancaster’s comments giving insight into how Bluestone was handling the workouts. Bluestone’s certified athletic trainer, Amirah Muhammad — known as Ms. Mo — is a big part of the success the conditioning sessions are experiencing.

“Ms. Mo and I take all athletes’ and coaches’ temperatures upon arrival and administer a basic Covid-19 screening before anyone can participate,” Kirkland said. “We keep an up-to-date log of all of that info to share with administration for contact tracing purposes. With the help of coaches, I sanitize all equipment and facilities before and after conditioning sessions.”

Athletes are asked to bring a mask, their own water bottle, and come dressed as locker room access is prohibited. Facilities such as bathrooms are only available for emergencies. “We also ask parents or whoever is dropping athletes off to not leave campus until their athlete has passed the temperature check and COVID screening in case they need to be isolated,” he said.

In an effort to limit contact between the various clusters of kids, athletes are being kept in groups and those groups are not allowed to come in contact with each other. “Again, in an effort to mitigate spread and allow accurate contact tracing in the event of a positive test.”

Kirkland said the biggest problem they have seen has nothing to do with the coronavirus. And it was an issue spoken of by Park View High School’s athletic director, Mike Barmoy — kids showing up to workout with no physical examination papers. Barmoy noting that is the reason why Park View is looking to start workouts in early November versus October.

“We have not started any yet,” Barmoy said. [We’re] waiting for athletes to get physicals [and] will probably start the first week of November.”

Kirkland expressed basically the same sentiments, saying athletes know the rules and no physical, no workouts.

“The biggest issue is having a physical and bringing a copy of that physical to conditioning,” Kirkland said. “We have had many athletes arrive and say they have gotten a physical, but don’t have the paperwork; we have had to turn those students away. Once they give us a copy, they are good for the rest of the year, but they have to bring a copy before they can participate.”

With all the planning that has gone into affording scholastic sports the opportunity to return to action, Kirkland said it is still monumental task carrying out the plan. He expressed that the aid of Muhammad along with the coaches’ support has been vital in making things work.

“It is a very involved process, but I am blessed to have amazing people around me to help with it; Ms. Mo, in particular, has been a huge help,” Kirkland said. “The coaches are doing a great job of enforcing these policies and maintaining strict social distancing guidelines. They’ve also done a wonderful job of adapting their coaching strategies to allow for conditioning within these stringent guidelines.

“We are so happy to be able to give students an opportunity to get out of the house, be physically active, and interact with their teammates and coaches. As long as everyone adheres to the guidelines we’ve set forth, we will be able to continue conditioning as we work towards actual game play, whatever that will look like.”

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