PATIENTLY WAITING: Spring sports still on the table

Leesville Daily Leader

It seems small compared to everything engulfing the country, but without warning, senior seasons came to an abrupt stoppage.

On March 16, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association shut down sports in the state until April 16. That start time is still up in the air, but schools in Kansas, Oklahoma, Virginia and Vermont have already thrown in the towel on the year. 

The list is constantly growing, and Louisiana could be added to it at any time. 

While coaches and players alike understand how social distancing and staying at home is important, it is hard to not feel sorry for the young athletes that wanted one more season on the field or on the track.

Simpson lost two seniors last season off its Class C state championship baseball team and was posed to challenge for a repeat.

“It makes it tougher because we have a good team and felt like we were going to be in the running for it at the end,” Simpson head coach Austin Cox said. “The last couple of years, we have been a young team. Two years ago, we lost one senior that played. Last year, we lost two guys. We lost some guys but it was all building for this year.

“There’s no sugar coating it; our goal was to get back and win it again. At the end of the day, I know it’s a big deal and people are really hurting. As a coach, it hurts to see your kids work so hard and bust their butts and have their senior seasons possibly taken away.”

The Broncos never got a chance to get into a rhythm with their whole team with a lot of the starters playing basketball. 

“We had a deep run in the playoffs and had to wait to get everyone out there for a lot of practice time,” Cox said. “We were doing a little bit here and there to get them reps because they were playing both during basketball. I expected a shutdown, but I didn’t expect a shutdown Friday at 3 p.m. We played our game Thursday night, and I told them not to take it for granted because it may be our last game for a while.”

The Rosepine softball team’s season was off to a hot start with a 6-3 record and had their eyes locked in on making it to the state championships in Sulphur.

“We were looking forward to this season, and there’s a chance the next time we play that we will all be a year older,” Rosepine head coach Glenn Granger said. “I’m going to lose three seniors, but all these girls will still have another year. I just hate it for my seniors. Nobody could have ever dreamed this up. We’ve had major hurricanes that have come through the season. I was at Merryville when Hurricane Rita came through. Merryville and South Cameron were big times rivals, but it destroyed South Cameron’s school.”

The Lady Eagles were on the way to a tournament when the news was passed down that Vernon Parish was shutting down school and athletics. 

“I talked to the team, and there was a lot of crying,” Granger said. “I told them that it isn’t over yet. Right now, they are talking about us coming back in April. I told them to go home and pray that this is taken care of.”

South Beauregard was the Class 3A state runner-up last season and has the talent to challenge for another state title if play resumes.

“We were able to do some stuff at the facility in the first week, but they were uncertain at the time,” South Beauregard head coach Jeremy Deville said. “Then, everything got shut down. We realized that it’s for real. They are still doing stuff at home and are working. I truly believe that we are going to play. I think they are doing everything they can and are handling it the right way.

“I plan on doing this for a long time, but other guys can’t. It sucks for them. It’s hard, and they’ve been putting in work for years.”

Not only does the season end for the players, but it could also affect college recruitment for some players trying to get on college radars. Deville has a couple of players that had college coaches scheduled to come to their games, but that may not happen.

Staying healthy and stopping the spread of COVID-19 is more important than a season, and the coaches realize that. There have been talks of playing into June – after graduation – and the fields in Sulphur are reserved, just in case.

“It’s bigger than sports now,” Deville said. “It’s people’s lives and families. I definitely understand but it’s hard for the seniors. I’ll have other seasons, but they won’t get this back. It’s a bad situation, but I think the kids understand.”