FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Dozens of Kentucky student-athletes, parents, and coaches rallied on the State Capitol’s steps Monday, asking Gov. Andy Beshear to approve the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s plan to move forward with fall sports next month.
Hours later, he did just that.
Groups traveled from across the state and chanted, “Let us play,” in Frankfort. A Boone County soccer coach, Scott Hughes, said it’s about more than just a sport.
"We do everything we can to provide educational opportunities to (the players), we provide networking opportunities to them, we provide college opportunities to them, and on top of all that, it benefits their physical health, their psychological health, their emotional health," Hughes said.
Hughes added that prior to Beshear’s announcement late Monday afternoon, the unknown had a negative impact on his players through much of the summer.
“Every day for the last five weeks, I come to practice and I see the uncertainty that weighs upon them, and I see the devastation that weighs upon them from the potential of not having a season,” Hughes said.
“I just really want to have a football season because I love playing football,” Madison Central High School athlete Adam Berry said. “I wouldn’t have anything to do (if the season was canceled). It’s a fun thing to do to play with your friends. It’s like a family bond.”
After seeing student-athletes upset about the possibility of not playing fall sports, Lexington resident Dawne Perkins created the social media page “Let them Play in Kentucky,” which has accumulated more than 32,000 likes and counting since Friday. She said she organized Monday’s rally to show the state how many people support the cause.
“We all recognize the risk, and we all recognize the possibility that we might not last, but we’re just like, just give us an opportunity because at the end of the day, what’s missing in our Kentucky right now is ... they just need companionship,” Perkins said.
Parents, athletes, and coaches like Hughes said their ultimate goal was to have the choice to play sports in the fall.
“A family can choose to not have their child participate, because they feel it’s unsafe, but don’t take that choice away from everybody,” Hughes said. “We understand that it’s not going to be normal, but those types of things that are deeply ingrained in high school sports, that needs to go forward, and that kind of normalcy will pay dividends to the kids going forward.”
Kentucky’s largest school district, Jefferson County Public Schools is expected to decide about fall sports during its school board meeting Monday night.