By Dan Hardenbrook
The reactions ranged from shock and disbelief to anger and disappointment. Some understand and say they saw it coming.
One thing everyone agrees on is that losing a second sports season in 2020 isn’t how they hoped the year would end.
Coaches had to cancel their practices. Athletic directors are destroying the winter sports schedules they just finalized. The media is trying to make sense of it all. Schools are scrambling to figure out what’s best for their students…and the kids are crushed…again.
After a decision from the state, MHSAA formally suspended their remaining fall sports tournaments and the start of the winter sports season. It brought back the bitter taste from the month of March, when similar circumstances stopped the school sports year in its tracks. Tournaments were left unfinished, and the spring season never got started. The MHSAA says they will follow the state’s three-week hold, and that they’ll do everything they can to avoid a similar situation this time.
In an announcement following Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Press Conference, MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl stated, “We understand the need for action, and we will explore all options to complete our fall tournaments when restrictions are lifted. We will assess everything over the next three weeks relative to fall and winter sports and come up with a plan that keeps us connected to our goal, for months, of having three seasons that are played to their conclusions.”
Uyl also met with members of the media as part of a Zoom press conference on Monday. He said that the MHSAA’s executive council will go to work this week, trying to figure out a plan to complete the final week of tournaments for volleyball and LP swimming and diving, as well as the final two weeks of the football playoffs with the hope that they can be completed in December after this latest round of restrictions are lifted.
Locally, all eyes had already shifted from the recently completed fall football season to the upcoming basketball season. The girls started practice last week while the boys were supposed to get going Monday.
For some, the change is still sinking in.
”I’m not sure what to think yet,” said Lady Indians Coach Jim Dzelak. His team has high hopes for the upcoming season, but has already been struggling, with multiple practices already cancelled before this past weekend’s news.
Few people are getting hit with news from more angles than Kenn Depew. Newberry’s Athletic Director will now navigate through his third straight sports season of chaos. This time, he has to do it as coach of the Newberry Varsity boys basketball team as well. He and his longtime secretary Deb Canfield were still trying to figure out how the schedule changes would look earlier this week.
Depew sees it from all sides, and is hoping that everyone around him can come together, much like his teams on the floor. “I just hope everyone can stay safe and follow the recommendations,” he said. “My hope is to start up on the 8th”.
Engadine boys basketball coach Walter Hanson is now seeing a shutdown stop a second straight season. His team was scheduled to play for a district championship in March when their season was cut short. They never got to play for that championship, and now they aren’t sure when their new season will start. Hanson understands the situation.
”It’s not unexpected. With cases rising and several schools being closed something had to be done,” he said. “I assumed that a handful of games before Christmas would’ve had to be moved anyways.” Hanson said he and his players are upset, but know that this is bigger than basketball. “Sure, we are bummed. Hopefully we can get this spread under control and we can start up after the three-week delay is over.”