MESQUITE COPELAND FIELD

Baseball venues around the state such as Copeland Field in Mesquite will remain empty after the UIL announced the cancellation of high school sports for the 2019-20 school year.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

In the midst of a time of unprecedented uncertainty based on the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the world of sports on hold since Mar. 12, the 2019-2020 high school athletics year officially came to an end on Friday.

The University Interscholastic League had been hopeful that some type of resolution could be reached in terms of providing some closure for the multiple spring sports.

However, when Governor Greg Abbott made the official announcement on Friday that all Texas high schools would be closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the UIL had no choice but to follow suit.

This is not the first time during my tenure as a journalist that the high school sports world has been affected by forces beyond its control.

When the terrorist attacks took place on Sept. 11, 2001, the entire country was put on hold. After coming to a brief halt, decision makers felt the best way to move on and heal was to attempt to return to normalcy, which included the resumal of the high school football season for the scheduled games later that week.

In 2009, another health scare gripped the state with the outbreak of the swine flu, also known as the H1N1 flu, which resulted in the UIL suspending all activities on Apr. 29.

Though there were similar concerns as to what we are currently facing, the UIL set an optimistic date of May 11 to potentially return to action and when the powers that be felt the situation was contained, all spring sports were able to complete their seasons.

There will be no such happy ending this year.

The health of everybody in this country is what is most important, and one would be hard-pressed to find people who do not understand the severity of what we are facing, but it does not make it any easier for area coaches and players.

The soccer regular season was scheduled to wrap up on Mar. 20 and several local teams had high hopes of what they might accomplish in the playoffs.

The Frisco Wakeland boys had advanced to the Class 5A state championship game in four consecutive seasons, winning titles in 2017 and 2018, and were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches 5A Region 2 poll.

District 13-5A leader West Mesquite was slated at No. 4 in those rankings, followed by Frisco at No. 5 and Centennial at No. 6.

FISD was also poised to play a prominent role in the girls playoffs, where they had five teams ranked in the TASCO 5A Region 2 poll, led by No. 1 Independence.

In addition to the Wranglers, the Mesquite boys and Rowlett girls and boys were all leading their respective districts and looking to make a little history of their own, but now they will never know what could have transpired during the past month.

Several other sports were only in the beginning stages of their seasons.

This area has produced a number of team and individual track and field state champions.

Those athletes would have been preparing for the scheduled regional competitions later this week in hopes of reaching their ultimate goal of a trip to the state meet on May 8-9, but they will not get that chance, nor will golfers and tennis players.

The athletics school year annually concludes in June by crowning state softball and baseball champions.

Most baseball districts had not even gotten underway and the softball district seasons were in their infancy when action was called to an abrupt halt, with almost nobody believing then that it would be the final time they would take the diamond this school year.

The premature end for the 2019-2020 athletics year is not a major setback in the grand scheme of things.

Even if it is a tough pill to swallow, when it is all said and done, I believe all parties involved know the severity of the pandemic and what the country is facing, and understand why the ultimate decision is the correct one.

Still, for those coaches and athletes, especially the seniors who may never play competitive sports again, it will always be tough wondering what might have been.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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