Before the Ohio High School Athletic Association postponed the spring sports season March 13 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, athletes in baseball, lacrosse, softball and track and field had been practicing with their teams for more than two weeks.
That baseline won’t fill the void of losing weeks of practice and competition, but athletes such as Watterson senior girls lacrosse player Abbey Giesler remain optimistic that things quickly could return to normal if the spring sports season is allowed to resume.
“At first, I think it’ll be hard just to get into the swing of things again, but hopefully since our whole team has been practicing on their own, we’ll come back better than we were,” Giesler said. “It would literally mean the world (if we can return). I’ve been looking forward to this season since the day I stepped foot off the field last season. … If there was a possibility to have at least a little bit of a season, I’d be so forever grateful.”
Gov. Mike DeWine announced March 30 that school buildings would remain closed through May 1 because of the coronavirus, and the next day the OHSAA informed school administrators that it had adjusted its spring sports timeline to line up with that date.
The mandatory no-contact period, which prohibits coaches from meeting with student-athletes and assists the governor’s stay-at-home order, began March 17 and originally was set to expire April 6. It now extends through May 1, meaning teams are prohibited from holding practices or competitions through that date.
The OHSAA believes it “can continue looking at abbreviated schedules for spring sports,” it announced in a statement on its website. “While cancellation remains on the table with all other options, there are many factors that enter into possibilities. Availability of venues for any events, Department of Health guidelines and governor’s orders are all part of the equation.”
The no-contact period does not discourage or prohibit electronic communication between coaches and student-athletes.
The OHSAA also announced that if activities are permitted to begin in June or July, it will continue to adjust offseason regulations to “expedite a return to school-based athletic programs.”
“We’re telling (the athletes) above all to stay safe and keep social distancing,” Dublin Coffman girls track coach Greg King said. “We’ve given them suggested workouts they can do on their own and posted them on our website. We’re probably now going to be making some example videos of exercises and drills they can do. If we have a season, it will be short and our goal will be mostly to keep them from getting injured.”
The OHSAA, which on March 26 canceled the remainder of the winter postseason tournaments for boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and wrestling, also is preparing for what it calls a “worst-case scenario” in which training, practices and events for fall sports are affected by the coronavirus.
“I feel sorry for all the girls and boys and everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college, high school or what,” Gahanna softball coach Jim Campolo said. “You’re missing out on one season or two. To be honest, it’ll be a surprise and I don’t see any way (the OHSAA) can (have a spring season) to tell the truth. As soon as they say May 1, even if they would start back up, I don’t know how you would start a softball season. They were talking about a five- to 10-day period of time to get your team back in shape and all that. If you put that same type of timeline in for after May 1, you’re already into the third week. I know our seniors would have already graduated or been just about ready to graduate. You always hold out hope and I do understand them waiting and hoping and I think it’s good for the kids to have that hope.”