Pandemic continues to impact Central athletic programs

By Maurice Patton

Chris Poynter hesitated to draw any correlation between the county’s largest school having the most significant COVID-19 issues in the athletic arena.

But the Maury County Public Schools athletics director did confirm Monday that, after Columbia Central’s football team was sidelined during the preseason following a positive test, and subsequent stoppages of activity for the girls soccer and cross country teams, the volleyball team will be out of action until mid-September.

“When we returned to summer workouts for all sports, we (soon after) had our first case. We kinda anticipated this would happen across the county, that it would impact multiple programs, multiple schools,” Poynter said. “Central has borne the brunt of it to this point.

“The worst call you have to make is calling a coach and pulling the plug on their program for 14 days. It’s a tough, tough situation, but it’s something we’re having to battle to at least have athletics be viable. As much as I hate to lose, as much as I want all our programs to compete at the highest level, this year is really about getting back to just playing the game you love – getting back to some normalcy.”

After the Central girls soccer team was forced to cease activities a couple of weeks ago, the Lady Lions are expected to resume practice Wednesday and host District 8-AAA rival Coffee County on Thursday. However the cross country team remains sidelined for at least another week, with the volleyball team to be held out until Sept. 11.

The entire Hampshire athletic program was required to shut down in mid-August as well. While there have been other pandemic-related concerns throughout MCPS, no other athletic teams have been sidelined en masse to this point.

“Although we’ve had our hiccups and ebbs and flows, at least we have some hope,” Poynter said.

Poynter said the protocols regarding positive tests and exposures to those who have tested positively make for a fluid situation as it relates to stoppages for teams.

“Every situation is so different and the decision-making process is very lengthy; it’s not ‘cookie-cutter’. It would make it so much easier on so many people if it were,” he said.

“You can’t pinpoint it back to a single source, but I think any time you have a greater population, your chances increase exponentially for someone to come in contact with, or test positive for, COVID. The more people, the more opportunity to impact more people.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail:; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.

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