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Virginia's high school football coaches create their own statewide association
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Virginia's high school football coaches create their own statewide association

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Highland Springs at Manchester high school football

Manchester coach Tom Hall says the goal of the Commonwealth Coaches Association is a voice that will be “unified and heard” by the VHSL.

The Virginia High School League is discussing issues that affect high school football teams across the state. Currently being analyzed are: out-of-season practices, the number of classifications in the league and how summer practices will resume after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Football coaches haven’t always been able to contribute to the discussion around those items, Manchester coach Tom Hall said. So a number of coaches created the Commonwealth Coaches Association to allow the football coaches across the state to produce a unified message.

“Our goal is to have a voice,” Hall said. “And with over 5,000 members, that voice is going to be unified and heard.”

The VHSL’s executive committee, which makes the final call on legislative decisions in the league, consists of 37 men and women who are mostly principals, athletics directors and superintendents. Last year, the executive committee fielded a proposal to end out-of-season practices, which has become one of the most contentious issues in the state. The executive committee rejected the proposal, and another committee was tasked with continuing to examine the issue. Some football coaches in the Richmond area said that while out-of-season practice should be curtailed, it shouldn’t be eliminated.

The league also is examining potentially contracting the number of classifications in the state. Currently there are six classifications and six state champions at the end of each season. Reducing the number of classifications to four is one option.

Hall said that the association doesn’t have a singular opinion on either issue yet.

Another top priority for the association is how and when football practice can resume after the COVID-19 lockdown. The National Federation of High Schools gave suggestions for how state associations can reopen in phases. But none of those ideas can be put into practice until Gov. Ralph Northam allows larger gatherings and school divisions are given the opportunity to resume after-school activities.

While there’s been discussion of starting an association for years, the lockdown was the impetus to finally get it started, Hall said.

The Commonwealth Coaches Association held its first virtual meeting this week. It won’t elect a president, and it won’t charge an entry fee in order to allow every coach in the state to be a member. Hall and Dinwiddie’s Billy Mills are representatives from the Richmond area.

The association also aims to: raise the quality of coaching through leadership development, educational programs and training sessions; provide support and recognition for coaches’ achievements, commitment and leadership; promote professional standards, practices and ethics; encourage goodwill and fellowship among coaches, athletic directors and administrators and recognize the value and importance of cultural diversity throughout the membership.

Henrico athletes win scholarships

Two Henrico High athletes won scholarships of $1,500 each from the VHSL and The Allstate Foundation. Track and field athlete Zayin Roe and basketball player Jahme Ested were named the winners from Class 5 and were two of the 19 athletes chosen statewide.

Winners of these achievement awards are picked based on excellence in the classroom, communities and in athletic and academic activities. This is the 13th year the VHSL and The Allstate Foundation have partnered to award scholarships.

Jackson Lamb of Maggie Walker GS also won in Class 3 academic activities.

Roe was the Class 5 indoor state champion in the triple jump, and she was also named All-Metro in the high jump. She carried a 3.85 GPA and is the senior class president. She’ll compete at Connecticut next year.

Ested was the Class 5, Region B player of the year, and he was named first-team All-Metro. He is a member of SODA, has a 3.7 GPA and will play for Millersville next year.

Broadcaster honored

Radio broadcaster Gary Hess was named the best radio sports anchor by the Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters earlier this month. Hess covers high school football throughout the Richmond area for AM 910 and FM 105.1 The Fan. He has broadcasted high school football games for 27 years.

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Eric Kolenich writes about higher education for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 and spent a decade as a reporter in the Sports section. (804) 649-6109

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