The world of sports was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, with the NBA suspending its season after a player tested positive for the coronavirus and other sporting events announcing it would play in empty arenas without fans. Many other sports have since postponed its seasons on Thursday, and the NCAA announced that all winter sports championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments scheduled to start next week, were cancelled.
The impact has also been felt at the high school level in Colorado with this week’s state basketball championships and the spring sports seasons getting underway.
On Wednesday, after Governor Jared Polis gave an update on coronavirus in Colorado, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced that only essential staff and media would be allowed in arenas that were hosting the state basketball tournaments this week. Two hours later, CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green announced a compromise was made that each student-athlete would be allowed to have four guests to enter the arena only.
But the biggest news from CHSAA came during the day on Thursday when it announced that the spring sports season was going to be postponed until April 6. This includes all practices and competitions, as well as the state speech tournament, student leadership’s Advisor U and all music festivals, per a release.
“The situation will be monitored and evaluated with key decision-makers from around the state to determine when, or if, to resume the spring season,” CHSAA said in its release.
Thursday was set to be the first day of official competition for the majority of spring sports, including baseball, lacrosse, track and field, boys swimming and girls soccer. Girls tennis and girls golf were already underway, and schools that were scheduled to play on Thursday were given the choice to either continue playing those games or to postpone with the news being handed down.
The decisions that have come from CHSAA this week drew praise from St. Vrain Valley School District Athletic Director Chase McBride.
“I appreciate the prudent approach that CHSAA is taking for the safety of the student-athletes,” McBride said. “I know that Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green is working hard with her team to make sure that kids are still able to have these great experiences while keeping everyone as safe as possible.”
McBride was also appreciative of the way that communities within the SVVSD are handling the current situation when it comes to sports, from Mead having to limit its crowd at state basketball this week to all the schools having to change the spring sports schedule.
“Times like this are really when you find out how communities rally behind each other,” McBride said. “We all want to make sure the kids are safe and to support each other. This is just another example of how strong communities can survive through adversity.”
According to McBride, no decision has been made on what will happen to the spring sports season if it is allowed to resume on April 6 and said that the hiatus will be used to monitor the situation and make a plan moving forward, for both CHSAA and the school districts.
Uncertainty hangs over the high school sports scene in Colorado and can change on a daily basis. For now, athletic directors, coaches and student-athletes are going about it one day at a time and will adjust on the fly when they can.
“We talked to the student-athletes at our school all the time about the things they cannot control,” said Mike Hawkes, the athletic director and girls basketball coach at Shining Mountain. “We’ve had numerous conversations with this team over the past couple of days. This whole situation is fluid and different. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We just have to go with whatever happens.”
For many student-athletes, they admit that times right now are different as they are going through something that has never been seen before in their athletic careers.
“It’s kind of like a movie,” Shining Mountain sophomore Sophia Matarrese said. “This is something that none of us expected to happen. It’s something that we can’t control, so we can’t let it affect us.”