FHSAA announces cancellation of spring sports
Viera High senior Griffin Lamp didn't realize when he played against Holy Trinity on March 11 that it would be the final match of his high school career. The FHSAA officially announced the cancellation of spring sports on Monday.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
What seemed inevitable finally became official on Monday.
Spring sports are over.
Following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ declaration on Saturday that distance learning will continue and schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) announced Monday it had no choice but to cancel all FHSAA-affiliated spring sports events.
“The safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans is our top priority,” the FHSAA said in a press release posted on its website.
“With the evolving threat of the CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19), we must ensure that we do not contribute to the spread of this illness. We are deeply saddened for our student-athletes who have seen their seasons and/or high school careers end so abruptly.
“Our Association knows the impact and role high school athletics play in the lives of so many and will continue to work towards the betterment of high school sports. We know this is a trying time, but the health and safety of all is of utmost importance to this Association.”
Reaction from both students and athletic directors was mixed with both understanding and sadness at the cancellation of sports, including baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse and track seasons. Spring football has also been canceled.
“I think I knew for a while that it was going to be cancelled, especially because school wasn’t even here,” Viera senior tennis player Griffin Lamp said. “It’s just not safe for everyone to be together.
“But it is unfortunate. All of the seniors that play spring sports didn’t get a Senior Night, or even just their last year to play districts and advance. It is sad.”
Lamp, who plans to attend the University of Florida, didn’t realize when the Hawks hosted Holy Trinity on March 11 that it would turn out to be the last competitive match of his career.
“Even on our last day of school, we didn’t know that it was going to be our last time walking through the halls,” he said. “It’s definitely weird to think about.”
Prior to the governor’s announcement on Saturday, the FHSAA had been holding out hope it would be able to bring spring sports back if students were to return to campus on May 4, which had been the previous deadline set by DeSantis.
Viera High athletic director Maggie Davis, reached by text, said she supported the FHSAA’s decision.
“As an athletic department, we are thankful for such a great organization who continued to fight for our student-athletes and though the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped, the FHSAA did exactly what we all would have done and that’s putting the safety of our student athletes first,” Davis said.
“Though it hurts us to see our seniors finish their high school careers this way, we know they will continue to make an impact on our community off the field. On behalf of VHS, I want to thank each of you for dedicating your time and efforts to our school, your coaches, and your teammates. You will be missed greatly.
“That being said, I am eager to watch our underclassman grow from this obstacle and come out even better than before. With role models like the class of 2020, they are sure to excel both in the classroom and on the field.”
Holy Trinity athletic director James Phillips not only expressed sympathy for the Tigers’ seniors, but also took the moment to look forward.
“I think we were all hoping and preparing for the best, but in the back of our minds we were expecting this final decision from the FHSAA,” Phillips wrote in an email. “I'm sorry to see the season end like this for our coaches, our athletes, but especially for our seniors. This is not how anyone would want to end their high school career. We are making preparations to try to bring some type of closure to them.
“I told our coaches that we have to take what we are given and hope that these experiences, as bad as they may be, will make us come back even stronger for next year. Holy Trinity athletes will be ready!”
One of those athletes will be Holy Trinity wide receiver James BlackStrain. A junior with more than 40 college offers, BlackStrain missed all of last season with a knee injury and was looking forward to getting back on the field this spring.
“I am kind of disappointed that spring is gone, but you have to make the best out of everything and I hope we can find a solution to that problem because I’m one-hundred percent and ready to have a breakout season,” BlackStrain said.
While BlackStrain will get that chance, for Lamp and the rest of the seniors and Viera and Holy Trinity, not only are their days of playing sports over, but their days of being in the same classroom together are over, too.
“It’s funny, because when you’re in school, you kind of take it for granted,” Lamp said. “Like, obviously, I can’t wait for spring break or summer. Now, it’s different because we can’t go out and do anything with our friends. It just seems like we’re stuck at home.
“Me and all my friends have all been saying if we could go back to school for one day, it would be better than sitting around at home all day.”