There will be no VHSL-sanctioned sports this fall in Southwest Virginia.
There will be a basketball league in the region featuring teams with high-school age players.
The Coalfield Basketball League is scheduled to begin play Aug. 17. A 22-game season is scheduled to run through Oct. 2, according to Brian Moore, coach of the league’s Oakwood Aftershock girls team.
Moore, who is also coach of the Twin Valley girls team, said the league is not affiliated with the VHSL nor any schools. Instead it’s composed of travel teams that will play in an organized structure.
“There has been some anticipation because of the guidelines from the governor’s office that there may not be any (VHSL) sports of any kind,” Moore said. “With basketball season scheduled to start in the middle of the flu season and then COVID-19, high schools may not be able to have a basketball season. This is something that will give kids a chance to play.”
Because of the pandemic, the VHSL voted last month to move the fall sports season to the spring of next year and to delay the start of the winter sports until December.
The first basketball games are not scheduled to be played until Dec. 28. As long as Virginia remains under Gov. Ralph Northam’s Phase 3 with regard to the pandemic, high school basketball — classified as a “high-risk” sport by the VHSL — will not be allowed to be played at all.
The start of league play is just over two weeks away, and Moore said the CBL has eight girls teams and four boys squads from throughout Southwest Virginia.
The girls teams are the Oakwood Aftershock, the Wise Wildcats, the Coeburn Deacons, the Ridgeview Ball Hogs, the Marion Red Storm, the Richlands Lady Renegades, the B.C. Storm and the Honaker-based Southwest Heat. Teams from Richlands, Honaker, Grundy and Bluefield are in the boys league, although more squads could be added before the season begins.
Moore said the games will be played Monday through Thursday each week at the Richlands Parks and Recreation Center.
The league will conclude with a single-elimination championship tournament on Oct. 2.
Like all other athletic events, Moore said the league will comply with all standing health protocols regarding the coronavirus.
Among the precautions that will be implemented at games: Players and their parents or guardians will be asked to sign hold-harmless waivers: temperatures of all players, coaches, officials and spectators will be taken, and each individual will be asked a series of questions from a coronavirus checklist; masks will be required of individuals not playing; the facility will have a seating capacity and social distancing will be enforced; basketballs will be disinfected during timeouts; hand sanitizer will be readily available for all participants and spectators; and there will be no pregame nor postgame handshakes between teams.