Updated 3:45 p.m.
GREENSBORO — For the first time since 1948, there will be no East-West All-Star high school games in Greensboro this summer.
The N.C. Coaches Association, which runs the annual games and the accompanying coaching clinics, announced today that it was canceling the games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phil Weaver, executive director of the NCCA, said the vote of the association's board was unanimous.
"Due to current unknowns regarding the COVID-19 virus, government regulations and concerns about possible loss of normal physical conditioning, the NCCA has chosen not to jeopardize the health of the coaches, players and staff or the players’ upcoming college opportunities," the NCCA said in a news release. "At this writing, there exist no places to practice due to closures, and Governor Cooper still has gyms closed. Furthermore, decisions about cancelling or fulfilling some contracts have to be made prior to the scheduled June 26 governor’s announcement."
The boys and girls basketball games were scheduled for July 20 at the Greensboro Coliseum, the boys and girls soccer games were set for July 21 at Macpherson Stadium in Bryan Park and the football game was scheduled for July 22 at Grimsley's Jamieson Stadium.
"There was really no discussion at all," Weaver said, adding that it was a decision that was made reluctantly.
Weaver said the NCCA had emailed all the players who had accepted invitations to play in this games, as well as their parents, and offered them the opportunity to come back next year and be introduced at halftime of the games. He also said this year's players would receive the medal that each player receives at the East-West banquet, a T-shirt and a copy of this year's program.
"At least we can do that," Weaver said, "but unfortunately I can't do much more."
Southeast Guilford's Kennedi Simmons, a two-time HSXtra.com All-Area girls basketball player of the year and all-state selection, was at the school for the first time since the shutdown when she got the news via text that she wouldn't be playing for the West in July.
"I was already sad walking back into the school because I hadn't been there in so long," said the two-time NCHSAA Class 3-A champion, "and I get the text while I'm in there and it was, 'Wow!' I had hope because I thought things would be better by July. I was just surprised."
Today's news wasn't the first disappointment for Simmons, who saw this year's state championship game canceled after the COVID-19 outbreak.
"It hurts because we already lost the rest of high school without warning ... all the fun stuff like prom, graduation," said the future Winston-Salem State guard. "If we didn't have the state championship game, I at least wanted to play in our local game (the Triad All-Star Classic) and then have this one."
Linebacker Elijah Thomas was one of two East Forsyth players who were on the West roster for football. He was disappointed to hear the game was canceled, especially because it denied him one last opportunity to play alongside Eagles defensive back Javon McCallister.
"It's tough, because I've grown to really appreciate those guys, especially Javon," Thomas said of McCallister, who was a teammate on two Class 4-A championship teams. "He made me a better player and he covered for me a lot. I will always remember playing with those guys."
Thomas won't be playing with McCallister again, but he is looking forward to playing football at St. Augustine's in Raleigh.
"You can never focus on the negative for too long," he said. "You have to remember to stay positive and keep moving forward."
Triad area basketball players who were set to play in addition to Simmons were: girls, Jacee Busick (Glenn); boys, Ahmil Floweres (Grimsley), Christain Hampton (Northwest Guilford) and Isaac Spainhour (West Stokes), as well as assistant coach Billy Martin (Reynolds).
Triad area soccer players who were committed to the games were: girls, Camryn Belin (West Forsyth) and Hayley Magnussen (Northern Guilford); boys, Jose Almanza (High Point Central), Daniel Anani (Ledford), Aldair Anica-Hernandez (Reynolds), Andrew Brown (West Davidson), Max Huber (Northwest Guilford) and Mason Paschold (West Forsyth).
Triad area football players who were set to play for the West in addition to Thomas and McCallister were: Nikolas Everhart (Oak Grove), Anthony Hairston (Northeast Guilford), Alston Hooker (Ragsdale), Nasir Lawrence (North Forsyth), Lionel Long (Reidsville), Austin Longworth (Elkin), Quincy Smith (East Surry), Tradjon Suggs (North Davidson), Jovan Turner (Reagan), Jordan Williams (Thomasville) and Page head coach Doug Robertson, as well as assistant coach Chuck Cannon (Wilkes Central).
The coaches' clinics will be conducted virtually through the NCCA's website and registration and association membership will be handled online as well.