It’s an unprecedented time in sports across the world, and local teams are hoping their seasons will continue at some point.
Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, the UIL and other athletic organizations are taking the steps to ensure the safety of the student-athletes around the country. Sports in the UIL have been suspended through March 29 at the least, and Lake Dallas ISD has suspended all activities through April 3, with remote classes starting up next week.
“Right now, it’s just kind of a fluid situation,” said Nathan Davis, Lake Dallas girls soccer head coach. “You have to be open to all of the possibilities. Not much we can do other than just do what we’re told so to speak.”
Just early last week, high school sports were still being played everywhere. The UIL girls basketball state tournament had just wrapped up, the boys tournament was starting up and other sports were competing – soccer was gearing up its final stretch of the regular season and spring sports were going on.
But the news ended up hitting everywhere, right at the highest levels of sports. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, which was followed by the NBA suspending its season just minutes later. College basketball’s conference tournaments ended up cancelling the next day. So did the NCAA tournament. So did spring sports in so many conferences across the country collegiately.
The UIL then announced all activity is suspended through at least March 29, and whether or not activities do continue at some point, they may be different with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing a recommendation to not have any gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks while some areas of the country have already issued a shelter in place.
For Lake Dallas and other districts out there, that means waiting things out and ensuring the safety of the kids and everyone is the No. 1 priority. The school district is currently in the middle of spring break and just announced Tuesday that all of its schools and facilities are closed through April 3, meaning that all competitions could not start until April 6 at the earliest.
“We’ve just got to wait and see what pans out,” said Scott Head, Lake Dallas ISD athletic director. “We really don’t know. I feel for the kids, but it’s unprecedented what we’ve been doing. So, we’re just going to wait and see what happens.”
There remains hope that the situation could get resolved and high school athletics could resume at some point. The UIL announced dates for the soccer playoffs to start up on April 14, while other sports like baseball, golf, softball and track go through no change in their respective postseason schedules.
“They’re there in the interests for the kids, and they want this to happen,” said Chris Haney, Lake Dallas baseball head coach. “If allowed, I have no doubt that they will make it work. Luckily, for baseball, we’ve still got some time. It goes all the way to June.”
During this time of no practices and no instruction from the coaches, players have to conduct any and all workouts on their own and can take recommendations from their coaches on workouts that they could do.
Davis said this is not much different than from when they are off during winter break.
“It’s always important as far as soccer goes to make sure you get touches on the ball,” Davis said. “It’s not necessarily doing it every day. You need to get 20-30 minutes every two days. You just need to do something with the ball. You go outside in the backyard and juggle, do some ball skills. Some of the girls already do it without having to be told. It’s just that dedication that they have to it, plus most of them are getting the same information from their club coaches.”
But if there is a way to continue the seasons someway and somehow, the coaches would love to make that happen – especially for the seniors, who are in their last go-around at the prep level and would love to finish out their careers like all of the seniors before them.
There is no additional year of eligibility that could be granted to them like the NCAA did for seniors in spring sports. So, this is it for them, and they would love to give them one last opportunity to play sports before they move on to the next chapter of their lives.
Right now, all the coaches and administrators can do is help the seniors get through this – and Davis knows his seniors will learn and grow through it no matter what happens in the end.
“Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things, a curveball so to speak that life throws at you,” Davis said. “This is just a blip in the radar. They have a whole lot of life things that’s still in front of them. You can’t dwell on this aspect. It’s a memory that you don’t get to have, so to speak, but it’s also something that’ll help you learn from going through these times to help you become a stronger person moving forward.”