By Randi Pierce
The Colorado High School Activities Association announced Tuesday that the spring sports season will not continue, bringing to an end a season that had barely begun.
CHSAA’s commissioner, Rhonda Blanford-Green, issued a statement Tuesday morning with the news.
“We have proceeded with cautious optimism, holding on to a thread of hope that the spring season would be able to realistically resume, knowing that the health and safety of our sports communities would dictate our course of action. It was our hope to be able to create the memories because we understood what it meant to our high school communities — especially seniors — statewide,” Blanford-Green wrote.
She noted that more than 30 other state associations have also decided to cancel their spring seasons.
“We hoped that Colorado medical and health data would provide reassurances that we could go in a different direction. Unfortunately that will not be the case. The spring 2020 season is cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which is affecting communities across the world,” she wrote.
The letter later continues: “Our hats are off to the many seniors that have shown maturity and resolve as their culminating year of high school has been impacted beyond activities and athletics due to this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The Class of 2020 will not be forgotten.”
“Just like everything else, it’s sad that so many of our athletes aren’t going to get to prove and show what they’ve learned and the growth that they’ve made over the years,” Archuleta School District Superintendent Linda Reed said, adding, “especially for the seniors, that’s where my heart hurts the most.”
The Pirate baseball team, which has four seniors — played one scrimmage before the season came to an end.
Coach Mike Remlinger indicated the team, including the seniors — PJ Bailey, Eric Huddleston, Ryan Lewis and Zach Haines — put in a lot of hard work and had high expectations for the season.
“Just in general,” he said, “the work we’ve put in the last couple years with all those kids, the expectations of what we were looking forward to this year were enormous, and so that’s a super hard pill to swallow, to just kind of look past that. But, on the other side, still super proud of those kids and who they’ve become and who they’re still growing to become, and a big part of that has been the competitive aspect of playing baseball.”
While acknowledging the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” aspect of the season, the coach noted this is a life lesson for everyone to not take tomorrow for granted.
He also suggested it will be interesting to see how the current situation affects the future in terms of the kids who can’t wait to get back to the sport and those who may have found other things to do with their time.
Track and field coach Connie O’Donnell said that it’s “obviously disappointing” that spring sports are canceled.
O’Donnell noted there were three seniors set to compete this year on the track and field team: Mason Blakemore, Tay Barker and Tad Hittle.
O’Donnell noted Barker had played three sports a year for each of his four years at PSHS and Barker, along with a few others, are working with O’Donnell to get participation credit for this spring’s track and field team.
“I’ve had some students that worked really hard over the last few months to prepare for track season, were really looking to accomplishing some goals,” O’Donnell said. “I think it’s really hard for the people that worked hard to get themselves in shape to have a great season. That’s obviously really frustrating.”
O’Donnell explained there are a few things she misses about the track and field season.
“We have such good, fun kids and I miss them. I miss hanging out with them and making them work hard and also just laughing and the camaraderie and the cheering for each other. I miss all of that,” she said.
Lady Pirate soccer coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason explained that, while he’s disappointed the season is canceled, that it’s for the best.
“We kind of knew it was coming,” he said. “That’s the safest thing to do. The safest thing to do is social distancing.”
Kurt-Mason explained that he broke the news in an email to his players, but had not received a response back yet.
At this point, if spring sports were to return, the Lady Pirates would have only had five games left in their season, he explained.
Despite the fact that the season is canceled, Kurt-Mason noted that he told his players to look on the bright side — they finished the year undefeated.
Kurt-Mason highlighted his five seniors — Alyssa Hubbs, Annabelle Bowles, Halie Severs, Gabriela Gallegos and Grace Thompson — describing them as “great people.”
“It’s tough. But, you’ve got to be strong and keep on keepin’ on,” he said.
“I wish I could change the way things are,” Reed said, “but I also believe there are young people who will take this experience and make the best of it and learn from it and hopefully make the world a better place.”