Local coaches prepare for, cope with Hurricane Florence

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As communities across Eastern North Carolina brace for and work to recover from the continued impact of Hurricane Florence, many area high schools have been converted into storm shelters.

The conversion of high schools to shelters has long been a hallmark for the way communities take care of their own.

While hundreds of people seek refuge in local high schools, the students who typically populate the halls of these facilities have concerns of their own as well.

A growing number of athletic contests have been postponed, re-scheduled, or canceled altogether.

While the importance of games and practices is something certainly put into perspective by the hardship happening across the state, there is an effect on the players and coaches that make up local teams.

“Some of them might be focused on their families,” Chapel Hill volleyball head coach Ross Fields said after his match Tuesday. “And that’s right, they should be because it’s safety.”

That match was played before the effects of the storm were being felt– and before it was known exactly where the most intense storm conditions would take place.

With a traditional slate of Friday football games entirely out of the question, several teams moved their contests to Wednesday night.

A fair number of those teams wound up canceling or postponing those games anyway, but some took place as scheduled.

Among those games that were played was Leesville Road’s contest against Garner.

“We don’t want this type of open date,” the Pride’s head coach Chad Smothers said after his team’s big win. “Because we have no idea what the ramifications of this hurricane are going to be, and we certainly hope everybody comes out of this thing safe.”

“We’ll stay in constant contact with our kids,” he continued. “The number one thing is everybody– our kids and coaches– we need to be with our families right now.”

It may be some time before every team in the area is back in action.

Brunswick and New Hanover counties have already announced that schools will be closed for the entirety of the coming week.

Cumberland County schools will also remain closed on Monday.

Should further sporting events be canceled or postponed, student athletes in affected areas will not only be burdened with the concerns that come with the damage dealt to their communities, but they’ll also likely be anxious without having the outlet and entertainment of sports that could help them cope with the difficulties around them. Plus, some may simply be wondering about the status of their seasons if teams go weeks without activity.