During any other spring sports season, one of the biggest concerns for coaches and athletes is what the weather will be every single day. A late snow melt or snowstorm. Heavy rains. Even just really cold temperatures. All of them are their biggest fears for causing delays and chaotic scheduling as they try to navigate through the shortest high school season.
Not in their wildest nightmares would they have envisioned that all of those concerns would be rendered moot due to the complete cancellation of their season. But that is exactly what has happened for the 2020 spring sports season. After hoping and praying that after a month-long delay to their season due to schools going to distance learning to help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota State High School League officially canceled all spring sports and activities as soon as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz extended distance learning to the end of the school year.
While something like this would be devastating for any of the high school sports, for spring sports, it just seems to be that much more so. With a few notable exceptions, spring sports tend to be played in front of smaller crowds than many other sports. There are also in general fewer opportunities to continue playing their chosen sport past high school.
What this all equates to is that for spring sports athletes, it’s more about playing for the sheer fun of it. Sure, they play to win and can strive for continuing on in college or perhaps even beyond. But more often than not, it’s the camaraderie and memories made that draw them to play. And that’s why this turn of events is all the more disheartening, especially for the seniors who never expected their spring sports swan song would actually take place nearly a year ago.
Before every high school sports season, the Isanti-Chisago County Star runs a special preview section, which features tidbits of information about each teams’ upcoming season. It includes expectations, athletes to keep an eye on, and the ever-popular team photo.
Obviously, we can’t do that this year. A preview of a season that isn’t taking place is pretty much meaningless. But what isn’t meaningless are the students who were anticipating playing in a sport this spring, but through no fault of their own, can’t do that now. That is why we decided we had to run some sort of acknowledgment for those student-athletes.
With the gracious help of each of the coaches, this edition of the Star features as complete a roster as we could come up with of students who are missing out because of the pandemic, with a special nod to the seniors.
We know this salute won’t completely eliminate the disappointment felt by the athletes, but we hope it at least lets them know we feel for their plight.
BILL STICKELS III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.