Sports and Activities Put On Hold Due To COVID-19

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Media by Lisa Swift

Ben Swift, senior, bats during a game against the Liberty Eagles, April 6, 2019. The Mustangs won this game 11-4 and are scheduled to play Liberty again this year May 5 if the spring sports season resumes.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) released a statement Monday, March 16, cancelling the remaining District and State Championships for Speech and Debate and theater. MSHSAA also announced the cancellation of the State Music Festival and the Class Four and Five State basketball Semifinals and Championships. 

Sarah George, junior, qualified for State in original oratory but is now unable to compete due to the cancellation. The only other State qualifier from the Speech and Debate team was Aarushi Boinepally, junior.

“Honestly, I am pretty disheartened that I won’t be able to compete there because the experience is amazing,” George said.

George’s season in Missouri may be over, but she’s staying focused on the chance to compete at Nationals, which are scheduled for the second week of June and have not been cancelled yet. If George receives enough bids from coaches, based on her performance this season, she will qualify for Nationals for the third year in a row.

George said a few other members of the Speech and Debate Team including Boinepally are pursuing a trip to Nationals.

Although the end to her MSHSAA season wasn’t ideal, she said the situation has given her perspective.

“My success in Speech and Debate in MSHSAA has been unreal, so I’m grateful for MHS to even have a team,” George said.

Although many districts are not in session and have postponed competitions and practices for the coming weeks, MSHSAA announced they have not cancelled any spring sports championships as of Monday, March 16.

Ian Greenblatt, junior, said he’s upset the first couple of games of the baseball season are cancelled, but understands the reasoning behind the decision.

Our number one priority right now is to take the necessary health precautions for ourselves, our families and how our behaviors might affect the elderly and sick.”

— Shane Matzen

“It sucks because it’s my first varsity season and I’ve been waiting my whole life to make it to where I am now,” Greenblatt said. “But I would much rather be safe than any athlete or person at MHS get this virus.”

Greenblatt said if the season is cancelled, he worries it could impact the ability of players to be recruited by college coaches. He said the absence of a season won’t allow athletes to demonstrate growth in their statistics, which could result in some athletes losing opportunities and scholarships to play at the next level.

While Greenblatt acknowledges the severity of COVID-19, he and other members attempted to persuade MSHSAA to not cancel the baseball season by posting pictures of themselves playing with the hashtag “#letthekidsplay,” in hopes of MSHSAA resuming the season when the spread of the the virus slows down.

“I feel for the seniors who might not be able to play their last season, but like I said it’s better to be safe than sorry and prevent the virus from hitting here,” Greenblatt said.

Activities Director Shane Matzen said throughout the situation, everyone should be most concerned with the well being of those most at risk to contract the virus.

“I consider the situation interfering with athletic events a very low priority on the grand scale of things,” Matzen said. “Our number one priority right now is to take the necessary health precautions for ourselves, our families and how our behaviors might affect the elderly and sick.”

He also said athletes fearing a loss of opportunities to play in college shouldn’t worry because all athletes are experiencing the same thing.

“If you’re good enough to play at the next level, those folks will find you,” Matzen said. “No one will be left behind because of this.” 

Due to MSHSAA and RSD policy, coaches and directors have been instructed to not organize practices. However, there are no rules prohibiting athletes from meeting up to practice without a coach, but Matzen urged those who wish to do so to follow the guidance of medical experts and practice good hygiene.

Matzen said he’s looking to RSD and MSHSAA for guidance on when to resume spring activities.