The Virginia High School League formally pulled the plug on the spring sports season recently, ending any hopes of playing an abbreviated schedule in late June and July.
No one was shocked, since the coronavirus is still rampant and playing games in such an altered environment is still highly questionable.
“It (is) impossible to have a spring season without putting people at risk,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “We especially grieve with those senior athletes and activity participants who will not have an opportunity to represent their school or wear their school jersey one final time after years of hard work and dedication.”
After mentioning the possibility of July competition in an April press release, the VHSL Executive Committee voted 31-0-1 to cancel in their May 8 meeting, saying that the coronavirus situation has not changed.
“The cancellation was not a surprise,” said Hylton High principal David Cassady. “Under the current conditions it became evident that there was no other option. The topic of discussion was always around the safety of athletes and the community.”
Right now, any sports camps are not permitted on school grounds. Nor are weightlifting or conditioning activities for athletes looking to stay in shape or prepare for fall sports.
“Currently we are not allowed to do anything. Hopefully that will change sooner than later,” said Kettle Run High activities director Paul Frye.
“Why rush back and take a chance to get infected?” said Battlefield boys soccer coach Cedric Bullock, who mentioned logistical problems with getting to games. “If we take a bus, that’s a closed environment,” said Bullock.
Kettle Run baseball coach Ty Thorpe worried how his team was going to position themselves in the dugout, and, like Bullock, supports the decision to not play a one-month mini-season.
“I don’t think you can put kids in the field. Right now gatherings are not bigger than 10 and we have to be 6 feet apart, so you can’t keep a team in a dugout then. You have to do what’s best for public safety,” he said in April.
While athletes are dealing with the disappointment of the lost seasons, so are college coaches.
“I’m concerned about the loss of development. Thirty-five to 65 more innings would make (pitchers) better,” said James Madison University pitching coach Jimmy Jackson. “It’s the same for our own players at JMU.”
Optimism remains for the fall, when high school football, volleyball, field hockey, golf and cross country take center stage.
Football is the No. 1 attendance draw for most high schools and produces the most revenue. There is talk in some states of playing football games without fans, or pushing back the season.