LATHAM — Local coaches are both “disappointed” and “heartbroken” over Friday’s news that NY schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, meaning any chance of spring sports making a return won’t happen.
In accordance with Governor Cuomo’s announcement that New York schools will be closed to in‐person learning for the remainder of the school year, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s 11 member Sections have canceled all remaining spring sports. Sections 8 and 11 canceled their spring regular seasons on April 21.
At present, 43 other state high school associations have canceled their sports seasons in similar fashion according to media reports.
This week NYSPHSAA President Paul Harrica will begin the process of selecting members to serve on a committee to address and analyze the potential impact of COVID-19 on the fall 2020 interscholastic athletic season.
The committee will include school and district superintendents, principals, athletic directors, Section Executive Directors and NYSPHSAA’s Executive Director as well as potential representation from the NYS Education Department, NYS School Boards Association and the NYS Department of Health. The committee will convene to make recommendations if needed to NYSPHSAA’s 11 member Sections to assist with planning and coordination of high school athletic programs.
“I would like to commend the work of the 11 NYSPHSAA Section Executive Directors who have worked tirelessly to benefit the students in their Sections. Many throughout our state were hopeful students would have the chance to participate in high school athletics this spring and return to some sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has taken a toll on many aspects of our lives and high school athletics is one of them. At this time, we must focus our attention on the health and safety of all New Yorkers. Please stay safe and stay positive during this difficult time.”
On March 23 NYSPHSAA announced the cancellation of the four remaining winter state championship events and was forced to cancel all spring state championships on April 27th as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Obviously I am very disappointed that we won’t be reopening this year. As the athletic director and Livingston Conference President, I wanted to hold out to the last possible date to get these athletes, especially all of our seniors, some part of their spring season. We were prepared with a schedule that would have started June 1 but now it’s all for naught. I understand the Governor’s reasoning, but I was hopeful we could get some sort of closure for all of our students and teachers/staff.”
— Letchworth AD Mark Sanderson
“It’s a sad day for all our students. This is normally such a wonderful time of year for students and the school community. I feel for our athletes who spent a year preparing to have a great season and are now unable to have this experience. I especially feel for our seniors and varsity athletes who put in years of work and dedication. We miss our kids, we miss the memorable moments that they were robbed of. We will do our best to honor them in the near future and ultimately hope and pray for their safety and health as they move forward to leave their imprint on the world.”
— York AD Eddie Orman Jr.
“I understand it but it still is hard to hear. It breaks your heart for all these athletes, especially the seniors. They have worked so hard for so many years to have it end this way, very hard to hear. And the worst part is there is no end in sight. I worry about next year. Athletics creates memories for a lifetime and it is sad these kids are missing those opportunities. But again, I am not sure what else the state can do to keep everyone safe. It is just a tough situation.”
— Rob Fries, Avon baseball coach.
“It’s really a very sad day for all the kids that are in school. To lose the socialization aspect and personal touch of school is awful. I understand the virus is real and we need to take precautions but to take away all of this from the kids is unfair.”
— Brian Dyring Hornell baseball coach.
“It’s very unfortunate for everyone involved. Baseball season would have been fun this year with so many returners coming back. Safety first, I get it. Lives are more important in the whole scheme of things. Livonia baseball will be back next season, that’s a guarantee. Our kids will be hungry. To (Livonia seniors) AJ, Noah, and Austin, our hearts go out to you.”
— Livonia baseball coach Scott Gilman
“I am extremely disappointed that we will not be able to go back to school this year. I am heartbroken for all the seniors of the class of 2020. Whether it be our spring athletes losing their season or kids losing their proms, senior trips, or traditional graduations, these are experiences these kids will never have. We will all just have to continue to pull together and make the best out of a very difficult situation.”
— Steve Wager, Wayland-Cohocton baseball coach.
“It’s disappointing that these senior athletes won’t be able to participate in their final high school season. At this point I’m just trying to figure out a way to recognize the seniors.”
— Dan Dickens, Cal-Mum softball coach.
“The governor officially closing school for the rest of the year is something that most people saw coming, but obviously is difficult for sure. As an educator, coach and parent, you immediately think of the seniors and that for many of them, this might be the last time they play organized sports. My heart aches for them and all the time and commitment they have given to their schools, their coaches and especially themselves. Many of our kids were staying in shape and preparing on their own with the hopes of a season. All of our student-athletes, and all of those student-athletes throughout the state, have had their lives turned upside down as a result of all of this. As adults, all we can do is continue to support them in any way we can these last couple of months of the school year and let them know how proud we are of all of them.”
— Oakfield-Alabama AD Jeff Schlagenhauf.
“This has been a very unique and challenging time period. It has been really tough on our seniors that had so many great goals to chase after. We had a nice group of athletes that had put in a lot of hard work all winter to get ready for spring. Connor Beagle joined our indoor team so he could spend the winter working on his pentathlon events and now he won’t have that chance. Ally Flint had broken two school-records this winter and had her training focused on her spring events. Aidan Harrington went to states last spring and wasn’t pleased with his performance. Instead of giving up and just ‘phoning it in’ this year, he doubled down on his workouts and kept chasing high end goals. His first indoor meet of the season he said he was going to break the school-record in the 300 and went out and did it, and then broke it multiple more times during the season. How can you not want to watch a kid like that in his final spring season. Our boys are the two-time defending sectional champions and I think we were better on paper this year than last year. We added a lot of depth and I was really looking forward to the opportunity to challenge them everyday. Our girls team made great strides in the past few years and a lot of that leadership was a group of senior girls. It will always be a memorable season, but not for the reasons I wanted.”
— Le Roy track and field coach Jay Laitenberger.
Friday’s announcement by Governor Cuomo that schools are closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year saddens me and all of the stakeholders at Pembroke Central Schools. We understand that the decision announced today is in the best interest of our community as a whole. As the athletic director, I feel for the entire Class of 2020, who are missing out on so many lasting memories. I feel for our girls basketball program which was deprived of the opportunity to compete for a state title, and I feel for our student-athletes who were going to compete this spring now that the season has officially been canceled. This spring, we would have had a lot of strong programs, and I believe some of those programs would have competed for sectional titles. These are unprecedented times that no one saw coming. Although this is all very sad and shocking, we need to be united now more than ever. We will get through this together and be stronger because of it.”
— Pembroke AD Ryan Winchip
“I was not shocked by Gov. Cuomo’s ruling that NY schools will not go back to school this academic school year. I believe there were too many unknown variables in regards to the virus and how social distancing guidelines would look in the school setting for him to allow schools back in session. He is in a tough spot with this decision. Sending students back to school too early and then it ‘goes sideways,’ nobody wants that on their conscience. I feel bad for all our students during this crisis, especially our seniors as they were ‘cheated’ out of those memorable senior activities — prom, senior trip, and a conventional graduation ceremony. Couple that with all of our spring sports being cancelled, and it is easy to understand why so many student-athletes are stressed during this time period. I just hope this does not extend into the fall and winter.”
— Attica AD Eric Romesser
“What a sad day for everyone. My heart goes out to our seniors and teachers that are retiring this year. We just want to say ‘thank you’ to our Avon Braves seniors for all the great memories they have given us over the years.”
— Avon AD Andy Englert