UHSAA suspends spring sports for two weeks due to coronavirus concerns
The Utah High School Athletic Association announced on Thursday afternoon that beginning Monday, March 16, all spring activities including all Park City, North Summit and South Summit high school sporting events would be suspended for at least two weeks due to concerns about COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
At their own discretion, high schools will have the opportunity to cancel any activities prior to that Monday deadline.
“In consultation with board directives and information provided by state public health officials, the UHSAA has suspended spring activities to properly fulfill best practices regarding protection of students and the general public,” the association said in a statement. “More information will be sent to member schools and/or districts as it becomes available.”
The suspension comes as organizations across the nation are canceling large events due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA suspended its regular season indefinitely Wednesday following the news that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the virus, leading to disruptions for every major national athletic association and their upcoming events.
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“Everyone was prepared for it to be a possibility,” said Jamie Sheetz, Park City High School activities director. “Looking at everything that’s going on, it’s at a massive and nationwide scale, which talks to how serious we are all taking this. We want to keep everyone safe and make sure people are exposed as little as possible or needed.”
This immediately affects all of the Summit County school districts’ spring sports.
“We have worked really hard for a long time. … I haven’t told the team yet so this is really going to get me when I have to break the news to them,” said David Feasler, Park City High School baseball coach in an interview before he convened a team meeting on the postponement. “I trust whoever is making the decisions and completely understand that what’s going on is much bigger than our baseball season. It doesn’t make it much easier for us knowing that, but at the end of the day we will understand it.”
Feasler and his boys are set to play a double-header on Thursday night in the St. George Tournament against Olympus and Hurricane — with Friday’s games still scheduled to take place.
The Park City boys lacrosse team finds itself in a similar situation, with a game scheduled for Friday against Lone Peak High School at Dozier Field for 6:30 p.m. According to Sheetz and coach Michael Persky, the Miners are still planning on playing.
“Obviously I’m incredibly disappointed for the boys, particularly the seniors, but there’s not much we can do about it all,” Persky said. “This is a bigger issue than Park City lacrosse and the state of Utah, it’s a worldwide event and we all have to understand that we live in a global world and do what’s right to protect ourselves, those around us and our loved ones.”
Park City High School girls lacrosse coach Lucy Mower expressed similar sentiments in regards to their season.
“We just got the notification. … And I don’t have any indication of what it means for practices or just getting together,” Mower said. “We’re definitely concerned, and I’m concerned about us from a schedule standpoint because making up games could be really difficult. We just started the season and it’s a bummer that this is happening.”
According to Sheetz, there is zero indication from UHSAA as to when, let alone if, the spring sports will take place again this season. Until then, he is taking it day-to-day and working with the region administrators to plan for each scenario.
“With the RPI already in place and now the suspension, we have no idea how this is going to affect the RPI rankings because we will be missing some region games,” Sheetz said. “For all we know, UHSAA might make some changes to the playoffs or state championships. Until then, we are just trying to get everything ready in case we are back playing when this suspension is over.
Rescheduling all of the missed games throughout the season may not be feasible, according to Sheetz. With the weather changing in April, most of the sports’ schedules were already back-loaded to accommodate the nicer weather — so rescheduling may be out of the question.
“It’s going to be hard starting in April to reschedule the games we missed in these upcoming two weeks,” Sheetz said. “To try and fit more games over that time period, while also having a week of spring break during that time, it’s going to be very difficult so it’s most likely a no.”
Making matters more difficult is that high school athletes are only granted 20 hours of competition throughout the week, which includes practice hours.
Both of the lacrosse programs, as well as the track and field program, were set to travel out of state competitions, but those plans have now been put into question.
The boys’ lacrosse team’s trip to Colorado to face Valor Christian and Cheery Creek at the end of March is de facto canceled due to the Colorado High School Activities Association has suspended all spring sports and activities until Monday, April 6.
The girls’ lacrosse team and track and field program were set to travel to California in April, and while those trips have yet to be canceled, they are subject to change.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.