Robertson County sports teams can begin offseason practices, tryouts and workouts on June 1.
Athletes have been barred from school facilities since spring sports were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16. The TSSAA officially canceled the state basketball tournaments and spring sports championships one month later.
Robertson County Athletics Director Pat Brown has given area coaches the green light to resume sports activities. However, safety precautions and regular cleaning must be observed, and groups cannot exceed 10 athletes at any given time.
“(Coaches) are working on plans right now for what that’s going to look like for them (individually),” Brown said. “We gave them some parameters. Some schools and teams may choose to wait, and some are going to go ahead and hold tryouts.”
White House Heritage is among the schools that have chosen to start right away. The Patriots have announced that cheerleading, soccer and volleyball tryouts will be held the first week of June.
Brown said the plan is to use June to ease back into sports activities. The hope is that more restrictions can be lifted in July when football, soccer and volleyball teams would normally start the intensive parts of their preseason schedules.
“I think it’s (about) being flexible,” he said. “We’ll have to watch the situation carefully. If it warrants it, we’ll have to shut down in June. If not and things get better, we may be able to ease up on some restrictions as we head into July.
“We want to make sure our athletes and coaches in Robertson County are safe. Hopefully we can position ourselves for a return to competitive athletics in the fall.”
Teams must continue to follow the TSSAA calendar for their sport. The annual dead period, when coaches cannot have any contact with players, will go as scheduled June 22-July 5.
The coronavirus has not been as rampant in Robertson County as it has in some surrounding counties. While Robertson had 317 cases and zero deaths as of Thursday afternoon, neighboring Davidson County (4,292 cases, 48 deaths) and Sumner County (778 cases, 42 deaths) have experienced larger outbreaks. Montgomery County has seen 217 cases and two deaths.
The TSSAA chose to leave resumption decisions up to the individual school districts in part because of the discrepancies in how the virus has affected various parts of the state. Select counties in East and West Tennessee have already resumed workouts, but hard-hit areas may be weeks away from doing so.
While Brown said a uniform start date would have created a more level playing field, he appreciates the TSSAA for allowing districts to make local decisions.
“I understand it’s a very unprecedented time right now,” Brown said. “We don’t have a pandemic playbook that we can pull out for athletics. I respect the fact that (the TSSAA) is trying to allow counties that maybe aren’t as affected as some of the larger areas to move forward.”
Resuming summer activities is just the first step toward the return of high school sports. It still isn’t clear exactly what school will look like this fall, and having students return to classrooms is likely a necessary precursor for games to be held.
“There are still a lot of question marks for a lot of people,” Brown said. “We’re all trying to get used to this. But we’re also concerned about getting school opened and academics started again in the fall.
“Those two work hand-in-hand. If you don’t have kids in school, I think it’d be hard to have games.”
This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.