NEW ORLEANS — As high school athletes get ready to serve up another year of sports, things will be a bit different as the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is very hard. My husband and I have been at every single game our kids have ever played in their whole school career,” said CheraKee Epperly.
That won’t be the case this year for Epperly, whose daughter begins her junior year volleyball season at Riverside Academy in St. John the Baptist Parish.
“They played their scrimmage yesterday, and they said it just seemed really weird because nobody was yelling. It seemed like practice,” said Epperly.
The school falls under the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, which recently put out a list of Fall sport guidelines, that doesn’t include fans for volleyball.
“Our coach told us they would probably start mid-September. There was never anything being said about fans not being able to be in the stands,” said Epperly.
Under Phase 2 restrictions, limited contact sports like volleyball and cross country can begin. Other sports, like football, can’t begin until Phase 3. According to a letter from the LHSAA, for volleyball games, no more than 25 students are allowed in the gym and essential personnel, like coaches and scorekeepers, are limited to ten.
“I think it’s very important for kids to have a parent there to show support or somebody to support them,” said Epperly.
Epperly says she has no problem with requirements like masks and physical distancing in the stands and even supports only a limited number of fans.
“Whatever the guidelines may be for us to be in there, we plan to do that because we just want to watch our kids play,” said Epperly
Epperly isn’t alone. There’s a Facebook group of parents dedicated to having fall sports and creating a way for fans to be a part of them.
"The parents are very upset. They have seniors. Some people have seniors and they’re not going to see their kid’s last season,” said Epperly. “That’s not fair.”
WWL reached out to the LHSAA Thursday afternoon and was told the organization is not available for interviews.
The LHSAA is set to meet with state lawmakers Friday morning to talk about fall sports. Part of the meeting is set to give parents a chance to talk about concerns.