Copyright 2014 Charleston Newspapers
The bond between players and coaches may have just gotten a lot stronger for West Virginia high school athletes.
The SSAC's general Board of Control approved a proposal Tuesday that would increase the approved summer practice period from its current three weeks to the entire summer, except for the Fourth of July week. The change would take place for the 2015-16 school year.
The State Board of Education is expected to put the proposal on its May agenda. Following a 30-day public comment period, an expected vote on the changes could take place in July.
Gary Ray, the executive director of the Secondary School Activities Commission, said the new summertime practice period, if OK'd, would begin on the Monday following the state baseball tournament in June and conclude on the Saturday before the start of football practice.
"The idea," Ray said, "was sharing the multi-sport athlete, especially at the smaller schools, but also the big schools. The kid who plays a fall sport, a winter sport and a spring sport."
As always, the summer workouts will be voluntary in nature. The SSAC first adopted a three-week out-of-season practice period in 2003, with the window starting in early-to-mid June.
A separate proposal to allow year-round practices without any dead period was turned down by the Board of Control.
The SSAC Board of Control meeting, which includes representatives from nearly all the state's member high schools and middle schools, took place Tuesday at Stonewall Jackson Resort in Roanoke.
Ray understands there may be some naysayers who think allowing coaches an entire summer with their players could lead to excesses and perhaps unscrupulous tactics.
"We also realize," Ray said, "that currently many of our student-athletes are participating - once their season is over - in travel sports, AAU and other programs. So their time is monopolized anyway. Those kids are going to be participating in the summertime.
"Then again, I know a lot of people have said this must be voluntary. I understand that some coaches say that and then [it doesn't happen]. It will fall back on the school principals and athletic directors to monitor that and make sure it doesn't happen."
Ray pointed out that many sports, such as football, already have year-round conditioning and weight lifting.
"Coaches can have conditioning anyway," Ray said. "They want kids in condition. If this passes, they'll just have the opportunity to work with their kids in the summertime.
"I don't think coaches will want kids all summer long. That's just my opinion - they're going to want some time to themselves."
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org