High school sports shelved until April 6 due to COVID-19
Will there be spring sports?
High school sports, including all practices, are canceled until April 6 because of COVID-19, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced Thursday.
In addition to the spring sports of baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, girls golf, girls soccer and track and field, the halt includes the state speech meet, Advisor U and music festivals, according to a statement on CHSAAnow.com.
“The situation will be monitored and evaluated with key decision-makers from around the state to determine when, or if, to resume the spring season,” the statement said.
The ban takes effect Friday. Games on Thursday, the opening day of the season for all sports except golf, were allowed to continue. The only local game on the docket locally, Vail Mountain at Vail Christian soccer, was canceled, according to Saints athletic director Tim Pierson.
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“No game,” Vail Christian soccer coach Barbara Wilson said. “We are enjoying our last time together playing (practicing) the beautiful game until (April 6).”
Eagle County Schools remain in session.
There is no precedent for this. On the day of 9/11, schools canceled practice. Battle Mountain soccer coach David Cope, coach of the boys team since 1993 and the girls since 2004, remembers his team returning to action that week.
“We played at the end of that week,” he said. “I remember we got together with the other team at the center of the field and sang the national anthem. This is just a different situation with multiple layers.”
The reaction among athletes on Thursday ranged among sadness, disappointment, anger and comprehension. Teams from all four schools have been practicing since March 3 and were gearing up for openers this weekend.
“I think we have to see the bigger picture,” Eagle Valley athletic director Tom LaFramboise said. “Of course, there were tears, disappointment and frustration from kids and their parents. But the thing to remember is that they all have aunts and uncles and grandparents who are at risk. We’re doing this to help those who are at risk.”
His counterpart at Battle Mountain, Gentry Nixon, echoed the message, mentioning that her father has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, and that her grandmother is 101. These facts have changed how the Nixons interact with their family these days
“Some may treat (COVID-19) lightly because younger people likely will be less affected,” she said. “We can’t make that assumption, and we have to mindful of members of our community who are vulnerable to this.”
So what happens?
Truthfully, nobody knows. Three and a half weeks of contests are a huge chunk of the spring season. Just as an example: Eagle Valley baseball wouldn’t play nine of its 21 scheduled games through April 6. That stretch includes league games against Steamboat Springs.
Huskies soccer just lost seven games — including five Western Slope contests — and would open its season against D’Evelyn on April 6. And as LaFramboise points out, with no practice allowed until then, it’s not like teams can just jump into contests.
“There would have to be some back-to-play protocol or there would be injuries,” he said.
The consensus in Thursday’s confusion is that teams won’t be able to play full schedules — soccer and lacrosse have 15-game regular seasons.
Allowing, for say, four days of practice before an April 10 or 11 restart, teams can’t pack in those games between then and early May. On a basic level, Eagle County School District would not have the buses to all its teams during such a short period of time.
And what will Western Slope (soccer and baseball) and the Western Conference (lacrosse) do?
“No information,” Cope said. “We don’t know if they’re going to resume, what games will be resumed. Nobody knows how long this delay will be. Will they end the season as originally scheduled, or will they move the season back? We just don’t know.”
Cope touches on a particularly salient point. Will the spring season restart April 6, depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops? There are no guarantees.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.