Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Grand County High School’s fall sports programs each have seen an average turnout and will proceed as usual, the school’s athletic director Ron Dolphin said.
Currently, the Red Devils have 37 football players, 23 volleyball players, around 15 girls soccer players, 13 cross country athletes (8 boys and 5 girls), 12 girls tennis players and six boys golfers, Dolphin said. Despite being low compared to other programs, especially at the 3A level, Dolphin said these numbers fall in line with past years.
Dolphin said that in several sports, more athletes will be added to the teams once the school year begins and students wrap up summer jobs or vacations.
“It’s not anything to do with the pandemic,” he said. “Only about 29% of our students compete in sports.”
Dolphin attributed that percentage to the number of kids choosing to join the workforce, rather than playing sports.
“With the environment we have in Moab, and how expensive it is to live here, a lot of kids are getting jobs, either to help support their families, or to be able to buy things like gas and insurance,” he said.
Although each team fields smaller numbers of athletes than other 3A schools, GCHS has been relatively successful, competing for region and state championships in several sports.
“The athletes we have are good quality athletes,” Dolphin said. “We just struggle with depth in a lot of sports.”
GCHS cross country coach Randy Martin said big meets are being canceled amid crowding concerns.
“We normally would host 12 teams for our home meet,” he said. “This year, we are only allowing two other teams to attend.”
The cross country team competes at the San Juan Triangular on Friday, Aug. 21 in Blanding, before next competing in the Red Rock Moonlight Triangular, the Red Devils’ only home meet of the season, on Thursday, Aug. 27, at 9 p.m., at the Moab Golf Club.
GCHS volleyball coach Brittney Melton said that her team actually has three more players than it did last year. The volleyball team begins its season on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at Gunnison Valley in a non-region contest.
One team excited about its potential once everyone is showing up consistently is the girls tennis team.
“We have a good team, slow start but shaping up,” GCHS girls tennis coach Brian Ballard said. “The girls, I think, have the potential to be the best team I’ve seen.”
Low numbers are nothing new for Red Devils