Jefferson County Public Schools on Wednesday announced it will allow basketball, swimming and wrestling teams to conduct voluntary practices this week, regardless of whether classes are canceled because of snow and cold temperatures.
The announcement was a departure from JCPS policy, which does not allow for games or practices when classes are canceled.
“It’s because of the postseason coming up,” said Jerry Wyman, director of athletics for JCPS. “In wrestling, weight management is such a big issue. … And with basketball, district tournaments start Monday and it’s the culmination of their season. We want them to have the opportunity to be as ready as they can be.”
Along with district basketball tournaments starting Monday, the State Swimming and Diving Championships are set for Feb. 26-28 at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday that the State Wrestling Championships have been postponed from this weekend until March 10-11.
JCPS announced Wednesday that classes will be canceled Thursday for the fourth straight day. Teams were not allowed to practice Monday or Tuesday but could practice Wednesday and will be allowed to do so the rest of the week, including Saturday and Sunday, Wyman said.
PRP boys’ basketball coach Dale Mabrey took advantage of the announcement and had his team practice Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re very fortunate that JCPS gave us this option,” Mabrey said. “It puts athletes in such a bad spot with district tournaments coming up to go three or four days without practice. It puts everyone under a hardship.”
Wyman noted that all practices this week are voluntary and encouraged athletes to stay home if they did not have a safe means of getting to practice. Wyman said teams in spring sports such as baseball, softball, tennis and track and field would not be allowed to practice until school is back in session.
JCPS basketball teams will not be allowed to schedule games Thursday and would face the same scenario Friday if classes are canceled again. Wyman said a decision on whether games could be scheduled Saturday would come later this week.
Ballard boys’ basketball coach Chris Renner said he was thankful for the opportunity to practice Wednesday, especially with fellow Seventh Region schools Trinity, St. Xavier, Christian Academy and others not falling under the JCPS restrictions.
“I like the fact that they’re making it voluntary … and hopefully the coaches will respect that,” Renner said. “Last year was a tough year with all of the missed practices because of the weather, and that’s not something the private schools have to deal with. I’m not saying they’re not concerned about safety, but they were able to practice when we couldn’t last year and it was a disadvantage for us.”
Ballard lost to Trinity 59-58 in the championship game of the Seventh Region Tournament last season.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed Twitter @kyhighs.