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VHSL crisis team weighs ideas to salvage spring sports season

SoVaNow.com / March 25, 2020

The Virginia High School League’s Crisis Management Team held a conference call discussion Tuesday to decide if the spring sports season can be salvaged in some way after it was severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After having to cancel most of the state basketball tournament, the VHSL initially hoped to delay the spring sports for two weeks, from March 14-30. With Gov. Ralph Northam’s order Monday to close schools for the remainder of the school year, the chances of the VHSL keeping the spring sports season fully intact vanished.

The Crises Management Team was expected to talk Tuesday about the possibility of holding a shortened season once restrictions in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus are lifted. It’s been reported options may include having a shortened summer season or some type of tournament for the teams. The VHSL said it would announce a decision after the crisis team met Tuesday.

The VHSL stated that whatever decision is made, it would be in the best interests of public health – which has been the organization’s guiding principle since addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a summer session would be interesting in particular for high school seniors, many of whom are rounding out their varsity playing careers. Though it would offer senior players some sort of competition, it may also clash with their future plans, including college — thus limiting their participation.

Recent comments on VSHL social media pages suggest parents in particular are hoping that some sort of season is possible for their kids and the other seniors and teammates they play with. A good amount of seniors are included in the estimated 70,000 student-athletes that participate in VHSL springs sports.

Several athletic directors, coaches and players throughout the VHSL member schools have expressed their desire to compete, yet not at the expense of anyone’s health. First year Bluestone High School Athletics Director Justin Kirkland said the situation seems surreal at times, as it is all unfolding so rapidly.

“Circumstances such as these are unprecedented for seasoned athletic directors, let alone a newcomer like myself,” Kirkland said. Kirkland said he was on his way to a regularly scheduled meeting for athletic directors when he heard an early blast of coronavirus-related sports news on the radio — the cancellations of the NBA season and NCAA March Madness.

When the VHSL first announced its two-week delay, Kirkland said at the time that he was considering cancelling all non-district games and other measures, such as five-inning doubleheaders with district opponents in baseball and softball, should the season resume. Back then, Kirkland said he felt like the spring sports season had the potential to be canceled.

Kirkland said he continues to encourage student-athletes and coaches to follow safety protocols in helping decrease the spread of the virus.

“I have encouraged all coaches and athletes to take this seriously and limit social contact as much as possible; that is really the only thing we can do to speed up the eradication and slow the spread of this virus. During the hiatus, I will make sure that playing fields and facilities remain well maintained and secure over the unforeseen break in action.”





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