New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | September 18, 2021

Fall sports a no-go at Charles City High School in 2021

By Robb Johnson | August 7, 2021 10:21 am

Friday nights at Leon C. Miles Memorial Stadium at Charles City County High School will be empty for the second consecutive year.

Charles City County High School announced the cancellation of Fall Athletics for the 2021 season. Along with football, Charles City will not have volleyball or Fall sideline cheerleading as well.

“Our coaches, administration, and staff have done all that we could to encourage student-athletes to come out and represent our teams,” said Charles City High School Athletic Director Andre’ Jones in an Aug. 6 press release. “We have worked diligently upgrading our facilities, working with community partnerships to provide athletic physicals at a reduced cost, and putting in place coaches to help student-athletes not only succeed on the athletic field, but also in life.”

The press release continued, saying that some students came out during the tryout period. Jones indicated that the numbers were too low to field a team.

“While there are other schools who face situations similar to ours, it’s very unfortunate that we have to cancel these activities for another year,” the press release continued. “Despite our programs coming off an extremely successful year that included two state champions, one regional championship, and the Group 1A State Female Athlete of the Year, interest continues to dwindle in certain sports, particularly team sports, that has led to this decision.”

In 2018, Charles City High School made local news after cancelling the Fall sports season due to low participation. After bouncing back and fielding both volleyball and football teams in 2019, a modified 2020 season due to COVID-19 once again yielded no interest. Jones was hopeful that 2021 would be an improvement and gain more interest, but now the future of those programs may be in jeopardy.

“There will be serious discussion with administration regarding the future of Fall athletics and the direction we will take when it comes to 2022,” the athletic director added. “At the current time, we are planning and continuing to reach out to student-athletes to take part in our Winter sports offerings.”

A Friday afternoon phone call to Jones yielded a passionate discussion about how disappointed he was about having to cancel Fall sports.

“This really hurts,” he said. “The coaches and I have pushed for the last month and a half to encourage student-athletes to come out. Unfortunately, the turnout for football and volleyball were too low for a team.

“We did robocalls, social media posts, and even published it in the Chronicle,” Jones added. “As an athletic director, I have obligations and deadlines to report to my district, region, and state levels about if we were going to field teams in order to not burden other schools and to avoid fines.”

Jones said that he doesn’t know if the spread of COVID-19 played a factor into the low turnout.

“We were one of the rare schools that made it through our sport seasons last year without any outbreaks, which means that the coaching staff and students adhered to all the guidelines and strategies,” Jones commented. “It’s hard to say if that played a factor into the thoughts of student-athletes and families.”

In conclusion, Jones said that all he and the school can do is offer the opportunities, but if they aren’t met or appreciated, then that’s how programs disappeared.

“You can look at volleyball for example,” he said. “It was gone from 2004 to 2016 due to a lack of interest before it was brought back.

“It’s easy to lose programs, but it’s hard to reestablish them,” Jones said as he wrapped up the phone interview. “We have to get feeder programs for these sports here in Charles City and we have started establishing a stronger relationship with Charles City Parks and Recreation to make this happen. If we can get the interest in athletics up at the elementary school level, we can build up our programs. Overall, our purpose is to have a foundation for student-athletes to be successful in life.”

Jones concluded by saying Winter sport tryouts will begin on Nov. 9. Winter sports include girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, scholastic bowl, sideline cheerleading, and indoor track and field.