The coronavirus pandemic is wrecking local athletic aspirations, as the VHSL (Virginia High School League) suspended all interscholastic competition last Friday until March 30 at the earliest.
The developments have left the high school sports scene in limbo.
Coaches cannot have face-to-face contact with athletes or use school practice facilities. Schedules could resume March 30, but will they?
“I’ll give you an example of how the kids are feeling,” said Fauquier High activities director Mark Ott. “My child (senior Zoe, a three-year softball letterman) comes home (Friday) night, and I’m sitting there watching TV. She comes in and starts bawling.
“I’m ‘What’s wrong, bud.’ ‘Dad, this is my senior year, and I may not get to play a softball game. I may not get to go to my Senior Prom, and I may not get to have a graduation ceremony.’
“When you look at it from an a 17-18-year old’s perspective, this is their career. It’s hitting a lot of kids very hard,” Ott said sympathetically.
Liberty High girls lacrosse coach Amy Lacey said the sports shutdown came down during last Friday's practice. She then toned down the workout.
“I switched gears and we just enjoyed the heck out of the weather, the team and lacrosse. I didn’t need to pound them with drills and sprints. I needed their take away to be how great the game is, how great their teammates are and use that to push themselves at home on their own,” Lacey said.
Fauquier girls coach Ken McInnis said his girls were stunned.
“To tell them the season is postponed for a minimum of two weeks and see the looks in their eyes was a bit saddening. Actually, it was heartbreaking. Then to have to say ‘No, we can't practice either,’ really sent the message home to them," McInnis said.
"I just hope missing two weeks is this worst case scenario and we can all get back together soon.”
Athletic directors met last week to take some proactive steps. Several scenarios are in place depending on how much time is missed.
“We all knew it was a possibility to happen,” said Kettle Run activities director Paul Frye.
“We said if we can’t get the (full) round-robin schedule in, that both regional representatives would be determined from the [postseason] tournament. We obviously won’t make up non-district games from the first two weeks.”
The best-case scenario is playing the entire district slate. The next option would be at least one trip through the league.
The original VHSL decree included the possibility of practice sessions based on upon local decisions. That option disappeared less than 90 minutes later when Gov. Northam closed schools.
“Once he shut down schools, that ended the option of having practices as well,” Ott said. “For liability reasons, we don’t want any athletes on school grounds without supervision. If that happens, we have to run them out.”
Each school was opened for three hours Monday morning to allow athletes and the rest of the student to retrieve equipment, books, clothing and other items from lockers and classrooms.
Both Frye and Ott said they had no control over players holding impromptu workouts among themselves, but no coach may be present.
For now, the two-week pause would permit resumption of practice and games March 30. Several county teams are slated to play March 30, but that is unrealistic, Frye said,
“We’ll probably have at least three days of practice before we play games,” Frye predicted.
If Fauquier County schools reopen March 30, the original calendar shows one week of classes before the April 4-13 spring break kicks in.
Normally, only the Kettle Run and Fauquier baseball squads compete over the vacation, playing in the annual Let’s Play Two event in Prince William County.
Ott said he would explore the possibility of rescheduling some games in the gap, if players were available from both teams.
“I think people would be okay playing over spring break if their team was available,” he said.