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Coach wants players to be allowed to continue to practice at school

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 11:36 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - High school gyms across West Virginia are all quiet at a time when teams are typically gearing up for the start of basketball and wrestling.

Gov. Jim Justice on Friday issued an executive order postponing all winter sports until Jan. 11.

Morgantown High School boys basketball coach Dave Tallman is voicing his criticism of that decision.

“It’s hurting the mental well-being of our student athletes,” Tallman said.

Tallman says it doesn’t make sense that players are not allowed to use school facilities for workouts, but they can use public gyms, which he argues is in no way safer.

“Now if they want to continue working out, they have to go to a public gym and pay a fee, and then they’ll be exposed to a lot of people who could have the virus instead of being in a bubble around our team and letting them work with us,” Tallman said.

Spring Valley football player Ben Turner and his teammates are preparing for a quarterfinal playoff game against Musselman this weekend.

Turner also plays basketball. He agrees team workouts at school would feel preferable to trying to stay in shape at public gyms.

He says he feels like practicing could be done safely.

“It takes a little more effort because it’s inside, but it could be done,” Turner said.

“It’s very frustrating when you look around at all these different elements of life, and a lot of things haven’t slowed down,” Spring Valley Athletic Director Tim George said. “It feels like our kids are the only ones that are facing consequences right now.”

Coach Tallman says the governor is underestimating how well school athletic programs have adjusted to practicing during a pandemic.

“I would invite the governor to come into our school or any school,” Tallman said. “Our athletes are experts at cleaning benches and plates and wiping down basketballs and wearing masks and things like that.”

He’s arguing shutting down winter sports altogether for two months will do more harm than good.

“We’ve helped them a lot mentally through this crisis, and not being able to be around them for eight weeks I think is a major mistake.”

Tallman is asking the governor to allow coaches to get involved in coming up with another way of handling winter sports.

Coach Tallman says he understands and appreciates the seriousness of the virus, and he doesn’t dispute the idea of delaying games until January, but he does feel practices and workouts at school facilities should be allowed to continue.

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