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Central’s McAmis, Hayes spur notion of a league of their own

Kevin Mays • Mar 17, 2020 at 1:00 PM

WISE — Being quarantined is not an ideal situation for a group of high schoolers accustomed to active lifestyles.

Though they know the novel coronavirus is a major concern and take the pandemic seriously, about 30 students, predominately from Wise Central, have developed a plan to stay physically active during their school’s closing for at least the rest of the month.

The Corona League is the brainchild of seniors Isaiah McAmis and Elijah Hayes, teammates on Central’s basketball team.

On Friday, they were shooting hoops at Mount Olive Baptist Church’s outdoor court after Virginia shut down its school systems in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. They started talking about the possibility of developing a league.

“It really started out as a joke,” McAmis said. “We were just talking about doing something like this. Then we started talking more about it and decided we would try it.”

McAmis said a small group got together, developed a logo and took to Instagram with the idea. The group added posts on other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

In a very short time, the number of followers had expanded to a few hundred — and those numbers continue to grow.

Interest in participating also grew.

“We started out with about 15 and then we got 15 more,” said McAmis, who is Virginia-Wise bound for basketball this winter.

With 30 teenagers and another squad of “older” players, Hayes said the league features six teams, each averaging six players and boasting its own logo.

The group — which describes itself as a “nine-foot basketball goal league to entertain while nothing else is going on” — held a draft of interested players and began play on Monday at Mount Olive.

Day 1 included a pregame national anthem, warmup music, a high school-certified referee, a scoreboard, a public address announcer, a popcorn machine, a media table and a whole lot of laughter.

“It’s just something that we wanted to have fun with and it gives us something to do,” said Hayes, who has signed to play at Roanoke College next season.

BUT IS IT DANGEROUS?

With the threat of coronavirus spread and advisories to self-

quarantine and social distance, both Hayes and McAmis realize the league may not last very long or may have to take a hiatus, depending on how serious the situation becomes in Southwest Virginia.

“We had a few guys that called us and let us know that their parents were not going to let them participate,” Hayes noted.

McAmis said the league is not going to do anything that would endanger anyone.

“If it’s a big deal and we have to shut it down, then we’ll just shut it down,” he said. “I mean, it is what it is. It’s just that simple. We’ll do what we have to do.”

Even if the league does have to postpone its games for a while, McAmis said he feels it can be the start of something good and hopes it will continue.

“Whenever this (quarantine) ends, hopefully we can continue playing in the spring or the summer because everyone seems to be having fun,” he said.

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