By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Hoke County Parks and Recreation made the decision to cancel football and cheerleading for the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, but soccer registration is still open in hopes of possibly starting late in the season.
Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Luis Renvill confirmed the cancellations. The programs typically have anywhere from 140 to 160 children participating in football each year, and 40 to 50 children participating in cheerleading, he said.
The department decided to cancel the fall sports after reaching out to multiple recreation departments in surrounding areas, to see if any other departments planned to hold football or cheerleading.
“We did not find one rec department that was offering football this fall which led to our decision,” Renvill wrote in an email Tuesday.
North Carolina state health officials are currently not recommending that recreation programs resume “high-contact” sports like football.
Parks and Recreation did choose to open soccer registration, with the possibility of starting the season later in the year depending on what happens with the pandemic.
“We did have soccer registration in hopes of possibly having a season even if it was pushed back or shortened,” Renvill said.
All of the department’s fall sports begin around the second week of September and run into early November. If the department is able to hold a soccer season, it might begin in late September or early October, Renvill said.
“As far as what we have heard, it’s honestly been a mix. We are just making sure that we have everything prepared to hold a season if we are able to,” he wrote.
The department is already looking toward winter sports. Hoke County Parks and Recreation usually offers wrestling and basketball in the winter.
The department is looking to high school sports calendar for guidance on winter sports, Renvill said.
“We are currently looking at the newly revised High School sports schedule as a timeline for our upcoming sports after the fall season. With this new schedule I feel as though it will increase the chances of having youth sports because it shows that there is a plan and we now have something that is more concrete,” he said.
The department also reached out to participants’ families to get their thoughts on the situation.
“We informed them that we were taking registration for soccer but we also wanted to know how they felt during this uncertain time. Many of the parents were unsure and didn’t exactly know if they felt comfortable with their child participating in any sports at the moment with the current pandemic,” Renvill said. “We made sure to let them know that we were going to do everything we possibly could to ensure the safety of their children if given the opportunity to have a season.”
The department is also hoping to get some of its adult-focused programs, like yoga and fitness classes, up and running again soon. It would be much easier to enforce social distancing and other safety measures in those classes, Renvill said.
Otherwise, the department is “just staying prepared and hopeful,” he said.
For information about the Parks and Recreation Department and its programs, visit https://www.hokecounty.net/161/Parks-Recreation.