The MHSAA just sent out this press release this afternoon (I added the press release to the bottom of this article) . As your athletic director and a parent of 3 high school student athletes (2 are seniors) this seems surreal and somewhat hard to imagine, but understandable with the dangers of this coronavirus. Our hearts go out to the seniors and we will make sure they get the proper send off. We have been talking about ways to celebrate their success and recognize their efforts either in person later in the summer or virtually. We will keep you updated as things materialize moving forward. They will not be forgotten. Here is an article I recently was going to submit to the Appleseed. With everything that has transpired I changed a few things to fit with the times we are living through right now.
A simple service return that landed into the net ended my son’s tennis career. When you are a senior, there is an end date. Just like that it is over. Seems like yesterday I was playing catch with him in the front yard. Seems like yesterday I was rebounding as he shot at our basketball hoop. Seems like yesterday I put a tennis racquet in his hands for the first time. The success and failures along with the laughter and frustration all came to an end. Along the way people would warn me about how fast the time goes, but when you are living day to day, you don’t really believe them. Going into the final day of the season I had those thoughts that this would be the last day I watch my son play a competitive tennis match, but it didn’t really hit me until I watched that last ball go into the net. However, I also realized that we were going to experience many final moments during his senior year and this was a natural part of the journey. What I didn’t know on that day was that this was the very last time I would see him compete. The cancellation of spring sports season with the COVID 19 crisis took that opportunity away from him competing in track and field this spring.
We never know when things will be taken away from us.
My daughter, also a senior, will not have the opportunity to finish her tennis career at Hudsonville because of the shutdown as well. For the two of us, tennis was more than a sport–it was our connection. From the time she was five years old hitting foam balls in the gym to now, the tennis court became far more than a surface with a net and lines. The tennis court was our place of solitude. We hit thousands and thousands of tennis balls over the years, but more importantly, the tennis court created a platform where lessons were shared, stories of success and failure were told, and a love for a sport was born. I dread the day the tennis court sits silent, because that means my daughter will move on to her next stage in life. That time is now.
Sports is not the end-all, and it surely does not define a person. However, it is a mechanism to bring people together and to teach life lessons that are often taken for granted, until we realize it is over. The purpose of this article is not to talk about the end as much as it is to emphasize the importance of those moments leading to the end. Don’t let those moments slip away. If your son or daughter asks you to go outside and play catch, please put down the computer or phone and do it. The email can wait. The phone call can wait. The game on TV can wait. Admittedly, I have been occasionally guilty of this as well and now realize the importance of time and how unpredictable it can be. I have one more chance with my youngest daughter to make sure we don’t take those moments for granted. They are moments we will never get back, and again, we never know when those moments will be taken away.
As a high school athletic director all I’ve wanted was more time. Sixty plus-hour work weeks while trying to navigate work and home schedules is often a challenge. Many of us live this life every day. We all would like more time.
However, in a 48 hour span during the month of March 2020, time was all I had. In those two days, after Rudy Gorbet tested positive for COVID 19, both the NCAA and NBA shut down while schools and businesses began closing their doors indefinitely. Now, time is all many of us have. My hope is that we realize time is a gift and we must be willing to receive it when available. Take advantage of the time to regain a perspective of what is really important in our lives and act on that. This moment in time will end and for many of us, our lives will resume juggling personal, work, and sports schedules. Are we ready? Did we take this “time off” from the busyness of life and focus on how we can maximize every moment of every day?
For some of us, this gives us a chance to hit the restart button and maybe look at youth sports through a different lense. Maybe our interactions with our kids, coaches, and officials will be more positive. Maybe we worry less about the outcome and more about the process. Once we get back to the playing field, maybe we will look at participation in sports differently. Maybe we will understand that it is truly a gift, and every gift deserves a level of gratitude–gratitude toward the many people who allow this experience, and all its life lessons, to transpire.
Years from now, when we look back at the year of COVID 19, will we still value the essence of time and living in the moment? Will we still give gratitude to the gift of sports? Each one of us wants to look back at our kid’s experiences with athletics and have no regrets. No regrets with our actions. No regrets with our time. We have an opportunity as parents right now to pause, reflect, and make changes that could impact youth sports for generations to come. We must seize this opportunity now because this part of life will be over before we know it. For some of us, maybe even more quickly than we expected.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – April 3 – The Michigan High School Athletic Association has canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 Winter and Spring sports seasons, in compliance with the Thursday (April 2) “state of disaster” directive by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closing school buildings and moving education online for the remainder of the school year to help decrease the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
This will be the first school year to not see MHSAA Finals played in multiple sports since 1942-43, when World War II led to the elimination of Finals in most sports.
The MHSAA on March 12 suspended its girls and boys basketball, girls gymnastics, boys ice hockey and boys swimming & diving tournaments amid COVID-19 concerns. All activity in all sports was halted March 13. Spring sports to that point had begun practice, but not competition.
The MHSAA’s Representative Council approved during its Winter Meeting on March 27 a series of concepts for completing the Winter tournaments and an abbreviated Spring season, contingent on the lifting of a statewide quarantine. The closure of school buildings into June made those possibilities void.
The MHSAA’s Executive Committee, comprised of officers of the larger Council, affirmed the decision today (April 3) to cancel the remainder of this school year’s activities.
“We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing Winter and Spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right.”
“For now, we cannot state strongly enough that all students, staffs and others follow the guidelines established to slow the spread of this virus – we all must do our part.”
Because the five Winter sports were not able to conclude with Finals, no champions will be awarded in those sports for 2019-20. However, championships won at earlier rounds of those tournaments (District or Regional) will continue to stand.