“We’re not the problem;” Berkeley County athletes hold rally in protest of color coded system

Sports

BERKELEY COUNTY, W. V.a (WDVM) – Berkeley County is in orange meaning that athletic teams cannot compete, but Berkeley County athletes protest that they aren’t the problem.

“We’re not the whole problem,” said Musselman Football’s Blake Hartman. “Schools aren’t the problem. Schools follow protocol. Sports follow protocol. Everything that we do, we follow protocol, but you can go walk into a Walmart and you can see three fourths of the people without masks, so we’re just trying to spread awareness that it’s not our fault and they need to let us play.”

While football playoffs don’t begin for another few weeks, other sports like soccer are more directly impacted by this. Section tournaments were supposed to take place last week, but due to the Orange status of Berkeley County, teams like Hedgesville, Musselman and Spring Mills had their season cut short.

“The most frustrating part is that we’ve been putting in the work for six weeks, day in and day out, and we see the end in light,” said Nicholas Shirley, a member of the Spring Mills boys soccer team. “We’re almost at the championship and it’s kind of getting stripped away.” Shirley said that the team has been tested for COVID and they came back negative and that he doesn’t understand why they still can’t play.

And he’s not the only one who feels that way.

“We’ve been following all of the guidelines since June,” said Spring Mills’ volleyball coach, Keri Kirk. “I have one girl that has worn a mask non-stop, the entire time. These kids are doing what’s asked of them, so they deserve to play in the playoffs.”

While it’s frustrating for teams who have worked so hard all season to not be able to compete for a title, the rally wasn’t just about the athletes.

Karen Ketterman, a mother whose kids go to Musselman, explained that the rally wasn’t just for athletes, but for all students, advocating that kids need to be in the classroom.

“There are a lot of children in Berkeley County that struggle,” said Ketterman. They struggle for a hot meal, they struggle for just a safe place to be.” The mom of four went on to say that some kids need that one-on-one with their teachers, her youngest daughter being one of them.

“My youngest daughter has Dyslexia, she has an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), she needs to be with her teacher daily,” explained Ketterman. “She’s struggling.”

So while athletics is at the forefront of this, it’s not only the student-athletes who are affected by the color coded map.

“We’re out here for everybody’s children in Berkeley County. We’re out here to make sure that every child in Berkeley County gets the education that they deserve and that the ones that want to play sports are allowed to play sports, but every kid deserves a seat in a classroom with a teacher, face-to-face, and just be able to get that attention.”

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