With sports currently suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, Coppell High School athletics are on hold just like the rest of Texas.
During these unprecedented times, the UIL recently announced that all competitions are suspended through March 29. Coppell ISD is closed through April 3, as the entire district – including all athletic facilities – is not open until at least early next month.
All the teams can do is wait and hope that maybe they are able to continue their seasons at some point.
“They can’t use our facilities. We can’t either,” said Mike Dyson, Coppell softball head coach. “That’s just UIL guidelines and our guidelines. You just hope they’re able to do something outside because listening to the news today they don’t even want you to be in any kind of group. That’s another thing. You have to be in a group of one or two or three.”
The news and closings have cycled fast in the last week, coming not long after the news and the outbreak reached the highest level of sports.
On March 11, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Minutes later, the NBA season was suspended. The following day, conference tournaments in college basketball were canceled. The NCAA tournament followed suit. The MLB delayed the start of its season. The NHL is suspended.
And those closings trickled down to high school. The UIL suspended all activities through March 29, and the way games are played in the future could be affected by the latest Centers for Disease and Prevention recommendation stating that there should not be gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.
It is unknown what that would do for events and whether fans could attend if games do resume at some point, but it is an unfortunate time for a number of Coppell teams who were hitting their stride in the final moments of the regular season. The boys soccer team has won six straight games and jumped to second place in District 6-6A, while the girls soccer team has won five of its last seven and is in third place in arguably the toughest district in the country.
Meanwhile, softball opened up 6-6A play with an 18-0 trouncing of Irving MacArthur to cap a three-game winning streak, baseball’s district opener – in the first year under head coach Ryan Howard – was postponed and multiple track meets, including the Texas Relays, were canceled.
“The boys have been playing well, but we sent a workout plan to the kids to follow along as best as they can over the next week or two,” said James Balcom, Coppell boys soccer head coach. “I think for us our conditioning level has been a big help in our recent success, so now this cuts in. I wonder if it’s going to kind of level everybody off a little bit if and when we get back to playing.”
What does give Coppell coaches some hope is the UIL releasing potential dates for postseasons in each of the respective sports, providing some sense that perhaps they could finish out the seasons – and the seniors’ prep careers – the way they always hoped.
Currently, the UIL pushed back the dates for the soccer postseason, which would now begin on April 14, while spring sports like baseball, golf, softball and track would incur no alterations to when their postseasons would begin.
“We’re thankful that the UIL is still trying to have a season for us,” said Ryan Dunlevy, Coppell girls soccer head coach. “They’ve adjusted dates already and just trying to work through and find ways to help us have a chance to still play, but you never know what the future holds for that, so we’re hoping that we come back and we get to finish out playing.”
Coaches especially want to give their seniors one last chance to finish out their high school days like the seniors before them. Unlike in the NCAA – where the organization granted spring sport seniors an additional year of eligibility – seniors do not get that opportunity in high school, meaning this is their one last hurrah before the next chapter of their lives.
“Our crest we have on our jersey, the bottom stars represent regional championships and at the top state championships, so our motto is ‘earn the star,’” Balcom said. “I know every senior group that that’s their goal is to add to the crest, so hopefully they get that opportunity and not just go out with not even a fighting chance.”
For now, all Coppell and other districts can do is wait and hope they can get back out there with their teams. They wall want to send their players and their seniors out the way they always dreamed of.
But they also understand that health is of the utmost importance during this time period and want everyone to stay safe.
“I think as soon as we do get to come back and have a season, I think whichever team is in the best shape is going to be the team that has the advantage,” Dunlevy said. “But it’s kind of hard to really predict because this is all uncharted territory.”