With the University Interscholastic League on Thursday announcing games for high school sports would not resume until May 4, Galveston County athletic directors and coaches were left with some hope of finishing their seasons while being pushed to the brink of outright cancellations.
“I appreciate the UIL giving us a ray of hope, possibly, and for giving an acclimatization period for our athletes to get ready for their seasons,” Clear Creek ISD athletic director Debbie Fuchs said.
In a letter sent to superintendents throughout Texas regarding the suspension in activity as a precautionary measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, the UIL expressed a commitment to completing all incomplete competitive seasons and stated it would continue to develop contingency plans.
“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” UIL executive director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in a separate press release. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”
The letter also stated that prior to May 4, the UIL would provide an acclimation period for practices to resume in accordance with the advice of local, state and federal officials.
“As soon as they tell us that, we’ll get busy as quick as we can in getting the kids caught up to speed because there’s going to be an acclimation period to get the kids back in shape and get them somewhat ready to be in a playing condition,” Galveston ISD athletic director Walter Fortune said.
The extension of the UIL’s suspension in activity notably puts further into limbo the state boys basketball tournament, which the Dickinson Gators had reached this season for the first time since 1955.
“There are so many obstacles that we’ll have to overcome to get there, but if it’s a possibility, I think we can gear back up,” Dickinson head boys basketball coach Jason Wilson said. “We would need a good amount of time with this whole layoff. It’s effecting everyone at this point.”
The extension of the UIL’s moratorium of play from March 30 to May 4 also drastically changes the logistics of the seasons for soccer, track and field, golf, tennis, softball and baseball. During the stoppage, regular seasons would have ended and playoffs would have began (and, for some, have been concluded).
Soccer was right on the doorstep of starting its postseason before last week’s halt in play and could enter the playoffs after a long delay. Track meets and golf tournaments would need to be squeezed into the tightest windows possible.
For softball, which had barely started district play, and baseball, which has yet to start district, the options for finishing the season and going into a postponed playoff will need to be more creative. Options mentioned by local ADs include having each team play each other once in district play rather than twice, or conducting a district tournament to determine the top four playoff seeds.
For the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ athletic programs, its suspension in play remains through April 12 and will be revisited at that date as needed, O’Connell athletic director Derek Martin said.
“If for some reason, we don’t go back after April 12th, then TAPPS has another plan that we would possibly go to,” Martin said. “It just all depends on when people are able to return.”
In the meantime, the plan for county high school athletic programs during this unprecedented pandemic will be to keep checking in on their student athletes and coaches as best they can.
“I’ve tried to let them know that the glass is still always half full, and we’re going to do best for our community and do what our superintendent and our community leaders are telling us to do,” Fuchs said. “We’re going to certainly stay positive and take care of ourselves and stay in contact with our kids. Hopefully, we can get through this, and this, too, shall pass.”