Alleghany County students protest sports ban

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 5:29 PM EST
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LOW MOOR, Va. (WDBJ) - In a close vote, the Alleghany County school board voted this week to not have sports in schools because of COVID. It was not a popular decision with parents or students.

They wanted to be heard, and were willing to defy school administrators to do it.

“We feel like if we didn’t get to speak to you all, then the decision would never change,” said Alleghany High School junior Leighton Gibson.

School leaders told them to gather at the football field, away from media, but only a handful went there.

Instead, they gathered in a private field out front, buffeted by gusting winds, where they chanted and cheered for their teams.

“This small group right here is definitely a small proportion of what we have,” said senior Erik Honaker. “The students that didn’t get to come out here today, they had to go walk on the track, they were not allowed to talk to anyone. This is just so perfect a level of the suppression of our voices.”

They represented a range of teams, from softball and soccer to basketball, which could lose their entire year because of the vote. They would like to see the decision reconsidered before the next board meeting.

“They could change the vote to vote sooner, so that basketball and winter sports could play their last week and go to regionals if it’s possible,” said junior Averi Phillips. “But voting the 15th does not make that possible.”

Meaning the only cheers these athletes will hear for a while may be their own.

“I can guarantee if the treatment continues of not being represented fairly, we will be out here again,” Gibson vowed.

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