'Happy to be back': Wake County high school sports underway after long break

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- So far so good for Wake County's return to high school athletics. Volleyball and cross country are into their second week of workouts after a 200-day gap between sanctioned practices of any kind.

It's been a long road since mid-March to get student-athletes back on campus.

Deran Coe, Director of Athletics for the Wake County Public School System, said he believes extracurricular activities are a vital part of youth education.

"I've heard Commissioner (Que) Tucker use the phrase everything is in Jell-O right now and that's certainly how we feel is we're handling things right now taking things a little bit day to day but planning for the long-term success of all programs."

Cautions are familiar at this point: Daily screenings, temperature checks and social distancing. Those are sacrifices that students like Green Hope High School senior Annabel Elvin are happy to make to get back on the court.

"When school had gotten canceled for the rest of the semester, I thought there was no way that we were getting back in the gym," she said. "Even though we have some strict guidelines and like a later season and everything, I'm really happy to be back."

The Falcons have won four consecutive 4A volleyball titles. Head coach Karl Redelfs is quite used to seeing his players celebrate, which will look a lot different for the time being.

"The interaction after a point win, they always talk about getting the people hyped and getting that energy, bring it in high fives and that kind of thing," Redelfs said. "So, right now, we're limited in that so we're trying to find other things whether it's air fives or some twist thing just something to where we can capture that energy again.

"I know that it's super important to have all of those guidelines just so everyone stays safe," he added.

Green Hope Athletics Director Chad Smothers is happy to see students finally back on campus. He's confident that this is just a step to opening up more sports as current protocols prove to be effective.

"We don't have the capabilities or the resources to test them, say as NC State or higher levels of college athletics or pros, but we're doing everything we that we possibly can," Smothers said.

That includes area football which is slated to start in the spring. Coe said he believes that is an attainable goal for the county.

"As we continue in a successful manner, I feel confident that as long as we are following the protocols, we will be able to complete all of our seasons for all of ours sports," he said.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.