Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that schools would remain closed throughout the rest of the school year on Friday morning. With that, spring athletes’ hope for shortened seasons were dashed.
The order means no spring sports will commence in 2020, eliminating track, golf, soccer and tennis seasons across the state.
“After basketball not ending the way we wanted it to, track season was something I was really looking forward to for bouncing back from basketball, to ending my senior year and sports career at Northeast on a high note,” Northeast senior Grant Rickertsen said. “Along with missing other events at school and the opportunity to be with my classmates for the dwindling time we have at Mortheast has also been pretty hard to think about. Sports though have been the biggest part of my life for the last 12 years and for this to happen at the very end leading to a possible conclusion stinks.”
Guidance from Governor Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa Department of Public Health had previously suspended spring activities through April 12, then through April 30. Governor Reynolds announced the extended closure of in-person schooling and school activities with Department of Education executive director Dr. Ann Lebo at a news conference Friday.
This cancellation is effective for all spring practices, competitions, and postseason events.
“I think it is hard for all of the seniors this year,” Central DeWitt senior Crystal Burke said. “I know everyone else is upset about it too, but they can use it to motivate themselves for next year. But for the seniors, this is it. This is all we have left.
“Even if we are going to run in college, this was our last year with our team, with our coach, and in our Saber uniforms. It breaks my heart to not have my senior track season.”
No decisions have been made yet on summer baseball and softball, but the possibility of seasons have not been discarded. That decision will be made on June 1.
“While we are disappointed that student-athletes will not have the opportunity to compete this spring, we remain committed to our primary goal of keeping students, coaches, officials and communities safe,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. “This cancellation comes out of an abundance of caution for the well-being of all. Conducting our spring season would involve moving groups of people in and out of various communities for competition. At this time we believe that is a risk we should not take.”
The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) thanks administrators, parents and coaches for their patience.
“We understand the important role that athletics and activities play in the lives of our students, schools and communities,” IGHSAU executive director Jean Berger said. “But during this time of uncertainty, we must support the health and safety recommendations of our state and national leaders. This decision is especially heartbreaking for our senior competitors, and we thank them for all they have done to represent their schools throughout their careers.
In the 2018-19 school year, the four spring sports accounted for over 45,000 participants among Iowa high school boys and girls. Track and field was the second most popular sport by participation for both the IHSAA (12,012 boys) and the IGHSAU (9,908 girls).
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzger took the same action on his side of the river Friday afternoon, cancelling schools through the rest of the 2020 school year.
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors is scheduled to meet via video conference on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
At that meeting, the Board will make a final determination on the IHSA’s spring sport state tournaments based on the Governor’s announcement.
As we previously indicated, the cessation of in-person learning will make it difficult for the IHSA to conduct spring state tournaments this year. More information will be provided following Tuesday’s Board meeting.
The IHSA did note that the cancellation of school will make things difficult to have any sports seasons resume.