The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) announced news Tuesday what many realized was inevitable but nobody was ready to come to terms with until they had to.
High school athletic events are canceled for the remainder of the school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), after careful review and in consultation with the Maryland State Board of Education and the Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, is officially announcing the cancellation of all MPSSAA events for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year,” the organization announced in a release. “This includes the remainder of the 2020 Boys and Girls Basketball State Championships and all spring sports, as well as spring State Championships. The MPSSAA will in turn begin focusing all efforts on aligning the return of interscholastic athletics with the “Maryland Strong Road Map to Recovery” and the multi-phased approach within each stage of the recovery.”
For spring sports — baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis and outdoor track & field — athletes are losing an entire season. Seniors have already taken the field for the last time in their high school careers.
Juniors that had their eyes on playing spring sports collegiately lose an important season for colleges to scout them and extend offers.
North Caroline High head baseball coach Mark Potter let his team know the bad news in a post on the team Facebook page. They’ll have a Zoom meeting in about a week once he has more information about wrapping up the season that never was.
“My message to them on the Facebook page was ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry this happened, I’m sorry that I had to be the bearer of bad news,’” Potter said. “Life ain’t fair. We all know that. And unfortunately, (my) four (seniors) had a season stolen from them. And I’ve got another five juniors that won’t get to have a junior season. They won’t get a chance to try and win two state championships in a row. Now they can only go for one state championship. That’s the ultimate goal, of course. It’s not fair, and we’ll just deal with it. Life isn’t fair. We just have to make the best of the situation.”
For basketball, it means the Easton girls’ and Wicomico boys’ teams won’t get to play for a championship after advancing to the state semifinals.
The Warriors were actually together when the news was announced. It was bag turn-in day for Easton, so the athletes went to the Easton High parking lot to return their bags and uniforms. They all stood at a safe distance and chatted, when head coach Matt Griffith received the news.
He said it was nice being together for that announcement.
“It was great seeing the girls,” Griffith said. “The smiles on their faces, being able to see each other and talk to each other for a few minutes. You could just see the excitement of that team, and that’s why they were so special this year. They loved each other. They liked being together, and they liked being together, and they liked playing together. It was one big family.”
The announcement didn’t mention what the state will do about the remaining teams in the basketball tournaments. The teams continue to wait to learn if they’ll be named state champions or some variety of champions.
Easton athletic director Kurisha Hoffman, principal Kirk Howie, and Talbot County athletic director Bill Keswick have all sent emails to the MPSSAA asking for clarification, and haven’t heard any answers.
They just want closure for the kids.
“It’s been enough for these kids waiting around to understand that their season’s over for the seniors and for every other girl on the team that they may never get that opportunity again to play for the state championship,” Griffith said. “Are you going to name the one seed the state champ? Are you going to call it co-state champs? Are you calling it the Final Four? There’s a lot of things that I’m trying to help with to get these girls some closure from the season, and we want to order some things. We have a year to go out and celebrate it with. We’ll get them some nice things so they can have some things to think about as they move on.”
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