Niwot track and field coach Maurice Henriques is on the go at a typical spring meet, working the infield grass like a networking event.
If only “social distancing” had been a common term a few months ago, it could’ve applied to the miles the Cougars’ frontman put in while strengthening relationships with his athletes. And not what it currently is in the U.S., a parameter to keep people apart in hopes of stymieing the spread of the coronavirus.
“It’s kind of hard when you can’t have those relationships with kids and it’s from a distance,” Henriques sighed.
For now, he gauges his athletes’ progress from afar, and with more downtime, he stays busy with a new routine that includes a daily two-mile run.
But mostly, like much of the country, he eagerly awaits a return to normalcy (intensified with a wife as a nurse and a mother in her mid-70s). Salvaging a spring season for high school athletes in Colorado would be among the things he holds out hope for.
Sunday, the fate of all spring sports in the state — baseball, girls golf, lacrosse, girls soccer, boys swimming, girls tennis and track and field — took another hit as the White House announced that it was extending social-distancing guidelines through April. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday followed up ordering schools to remain in remote-learning mode through that same period.
The options for a spring season appear to be this: 1.) A start in early May — the best-case date — and a shortened schedule with postseason play for all sports originally slated for sometime into May or early June. 2.) A season pushed out into the summer months. Or 3.) it’ll be canceled altogether.
“We’re all waiting,” CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said when asked about the spring athletics plan last week.
If it does return, Henriques said he personally likes the idea of extending it into the summer — which is nothing new as he’d prefer if the high school track and field season was in June anyway due to the weather conditions.
He was also realistic about the obstacles that would come with it this time, though, including the balance between scheduling and prioritizing among coaches, athletes, administrators and parents.
“It probably gets tricky for the seniors if they’re heading to college,” said Henriques, who also coaches track and field for his club team, R.E.A.L Training. “I’ll use (distance runner) Samrawit (Dishon) as an example. She’s getting ready for fall cross country at New Mexico. I don’t know if her college coach wants her running and competing in track during the summer.”
In baseball, Longmont coach Tom Fobes tossed out a plan if the season resumes that would get in at least conference games and would push the postseason back one week — this, after the schedule was already pushed back slightly this year with it originally slated to run through June 6.
He noted that there would be obstacles with club commitments and family obligations, among other things.
Prospect Ridge baseball coach Mark Knudson, meanwhile, made his thoughts known in a column he penned for Woody Paige’s web site (WoodyPaige.com) last week, where he said adults should make any sacrifice necessary to give kids, and especially seniors, the opportunity to “leave high school with a diploma and memories of their final high school sports seasons that don’t start and end with a virus.”
Spring sports in Colorado have been suspended since March 13. So, in the end, any start would be a good start.