Spring sports canceled, athletes left to ponder what might have been

Spring sports canceled, athletes left to ponder what might have been

West Holmes shot putter and discus thrower Lane Graham was set to charge into the state meet this season after a pair of near misses. Now he, like many area athletes, can only wonder "what if" with the cancellation of high school spring sports.


Perhaps the only thing as agonizing as a close loss in a huge game is the continual thoughts of what might have been.

With the cancellation of the spring sports season, “what might have been” will be on the minds of area high school athletes for a long time.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association recently informed member schools that spring sports are now cancelled, as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced school facilities will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year due to COVID-19.

With the cancellation comes plenty of sorrow and “what might have been” for area athletes and teams.

Both the Hiland and West Holmes baseball programs were loaded and ready to make what they felt would be deep tournament runs, each team coming off an exciting 2019 campaign.

The Lady Knights softball team was loaded with a senior-laden group that was looking forward to this year for a long time, only to see it wiped away, their hopes dashed.

Individual track athletes like West Holmes’ Katie Sprang, Lane Graham and Jacob Goudy were excited to take another shot at getting to the state meet, as were dozens of other area track stars.

That is just the tip of the iceberg with many other teams and individuals ready to show they can shine.

It is especially difficult for the local senior athletes, who have been waiting for this, their senior season, to celebrate all of the hard work they have put into their craft. While that hard work is never wasted and will pay dividends for many of them down the road, the chance to play on the field, track or tennis court has vanished.

OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass sent a memo to school administrators following DeWine’s press conference. For weeks the OHSAA has communicated with schools that spring sports would be cancelled if school facilities were closed. In addition to facilities not being opened, it would be impossible to ensure the health and safety of all individuals and support personnel involved in practices and contests at all member schools.

“As we have stated in our previous communications, today’s announcement by Gov. DeWine to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year also will now result in the cancellation of OHSAA-sponsored spring sports seasons including tournaments,” Snodgrass wrote Monday.

The OHSAA’s mandatory no-contact period for all interscholastic sports remains in effect until at least May 3, which could be extended. Coaches and school administrators are encouraged to have nonmandatory electronic and online communications with their student-athletes. The closure of school facilities includes all athletic facilities for any interscholastic training, practice or competition.

In an interview Monday afternoon, Snodgrass reflected on the unprecedented times that the pandemic has brought to the nation and the impact it has had on schools and interscholastic athletics.

“I’ve heard from so many people who have said, ‘You really need to understand what this means to our kids,’” Snodgrass said during the interview. “I’m a parent. I was a coach. I grew up every day as a player and a coach wanting to play high school sports and get to the state tournament. So I do think I understand that. I also have to go with the fact that my number-one concern that I have, over everything, is the health and safety of everyone involved.”

Snodgrass said it’s not just for the student-athletes. “It’s not just our student-athletes. It’s the parents, coaches, umpires, officials, the scorekeepers. All those things enter into this,” he said. “It’s a tough decision, and it’s one that I and all the other executive directors of the other states never thought we would have to do. Never did I think this would be the case, but I’ve tried to be as prepared as I could every step of the way.”

Snodgrass also addressed the summer and start of fall sports in the interview. “July is a very physical month for our student-athletes entering fall sports, so we have already started looking at if this continues through the summer, we’ll have the potential of having a lot of kids who haven’t had the physical activity that they would normally have going into a fall season. So for the health and safety of everyone, we have to look at the acclimation periods going into the fall, if that happens. We have to be prepared for that,” he said.

Snodgrass said they are looking at all aspects. “We’re also talking about that, if this does go through the summer, what is the likelihood that a student can get in to get an (annual medical exam). We have a sports medicine advisory group that is looking at that. They are looking at all aspects such as whether artificial surfaces need to be treated. We are relying on the advice of experts in our decision making,” he said.

The OHSAA will continue to communicate throughout the spring and summer regarding any adjustments to OHSAA off-season regulations, academic-eligibility standards, sports medicine updates and more.

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