By Carey Phillips

With COVID-19 cases rising in North Carolina, the N.C. High School Athletic Association has decided to continue its Phase I of athletic workouts.

After a dead period this week, the NCHSAA was scheduled to move into Phase II when activities resume Monday. No guidelines have been issued for what would be allowed in Phase 2.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that the state’s reopening plan would remain in Phase II until at least July 17. The state had been slated to go into Phase III June 26.

The NCHSAA has not given a date for how long Phase I restrictions will continue.

Smoky Mountain Athletic Director Adam Phillips is pleased with how things have gone since workouts started June 17 for football, volleyball, soccer and cross country.

“Things have been great,” he said. “We’ve had great numbers with the four sports that have been going so far. It’s great to see kids back on campus. Most of the kids seem to be in shape. I can’t say enough about our coaches and how they have implemented the proper procedures and protocol.”

Even though basketball was allowed to start workouts June 17 under state and local guidelines, the school elected to hold off until Monday.

“I’m excited, but it’s tough for the kids,” said Phillips, who is also men’s basketball coach. “At least we can shoot, but the kids have to get their own rebounds. We can start going over terminology and getting the new kids accustomed to what we do and how we play.”