Local prep athletes protest fall season’s postponement as other states reverse course

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 8:03 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Northern Nevada’s high school athletes aren’t going quietly as their seasons remain postponed.

With some states reversing course on moving all sports to 2021, Nevada remains in the minority of the country when it comes to fall sports competing during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“This senior year is what I’ve been working for," said Justin Harley, a football player at Damonte Ranch High School. “I’m relying on this for college, getting to the next level and continuing my education.”

In August, Nevada became one of a handful of states to move its fall sports season to the spring of 2021. Since then, many have stuck to it, but others - including Michigan and Delaware - have recently voted to change those plans and start playing now.

At Tuesday’s Washoe County School District Board of Trustees meeting from Sparks High School, dozens of local student-athletes gathered to protest the delay to the season. Nevada’s plan calls for a shortened six-week season with practices beginning in February.

“You never realize how much you love something until it’s gone from you,” said Weston Smith, a sophomore football player at Damonte Ranch. “Every school day last year, I’d be excited to come because I had Friday nights to look forward to.”

Smith, who’s set to be the Mustangs' starting quarterback, was one of the few who spoke directly to the board on behalf of the student-athletes.

The outcome wasn’t what they’d hoped for.

“The school board just shot us down, saying it’s up to the NIAA, and there’s nothing they can do,” said Smith, citing conflicting responses. "That’s the opposite of what we hear from the NIAA, who says it’s up to the school board.”

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has maintained it defers to school superintendents on this matter.

“People were just pointing fingers at each other, saying this and that," said Harley, who was at the protest. "It’s like, what’s really going on?”

Fellow Damonte Ranch senior, Ethan Kulpin, says it’s frustrating to watch surrounding states and the majority of the country holding a fall sports season while Nevada waits on the sideline.

“We have a bunch of other states in the U.S. that are changing and going with playing fall sports and helping their students," said Kulpin, who is switching positions from quarterback to wide receiver, hoping to further his career in college. “It’s not fair for Nevada not to be doing that to their students.”

"We just hope someone takes leadership and changes on this.”

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