The Day Sports Disappeared

Standing at the dugout looking out at the softball field, one could notice the tumbleweed rolling across the infield and the sounds of birds chirping broke the eerie silence as the Spring sports season came to a halt due to concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus this past Friday.

On Friday morning, the announcement was officially made by the West Virginia State Superintendent to shut down all after school activities including practices and games through April 10 which means part of the season for baseball, softball, tennis and track will be erased.

During the Thursday afternoon session of the girls basketball state tournament, there was an announcement of its postponement and the same for the remainder of the boys basketball regional championship contests.

Additionally, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice declared schools would be closed starting March 16 for an indefinite amount of time with an update clarifying the closures to be until at least March 27.

Other states are implementing similar closures and cancelations.

It was a sort of like a ghost town going over to the ball fields, tennis courts and tracks as nobody was present due to the fact practices were nullified beginning on Friday.

Hardy County Schools Superintendent Sheena Van Meter contacted school personnel to provide updates about the closure and sports season postponement and has now implemented a plan to have meals provided for students at each school location during the duration of the closures.

Stopping the sports programs has occurred on every level including professional sports as the world looks to calm this pandemic with limited or zero activities, especially with large crowd involvement.

Moorefield and East Hardy Softball scrimmages were canceled immediately with Maryland’s Southern Garrett, as the Rams couldn’t cross state lines with the impact of the school closures.

One can’t even turn on the television to watch a sporting event as cancellations or postponements have run amok.

Collegiately, the NCAA has terminated the March Madness basketball tournaments and all championships for winter and spring.

The Little League has banned practices through the first week of April too.

It is heartbreaking for the athletes, coaches, parents and fans to experience this type of postponement or season ending measure, yet this issue is larger than sports and deserves proper attention for the well-being of all citizens around the world.

“I understand why our season has been delayed. It is important to keep our children and community safe. However, it was very difficult and and heartbreaking to stand in front of 25 young softball players and explain that we wouldn’t be able to practice, scrimmage or play games for practically a month or more…but the first thing I told them was that we were staying positive, because that’s just what we do,” Moorefield Softball coach Bridget Sions remarked.

“I explained that having our season postponed was a lot better than having it canceled. I know that my girls will be ready to go whenever we get the green light. We’re on a mission that we’re praying we get to complete. I know they’ll come out firing. Honestly, I think we will miss getting together as a team during the next few weeks more than anything.”

Seniors on the high school teams have their seasons cut short with hope to continue, but their safety is a top priority.

It was particularly hard for the area coaches to inform their teams about the cancellation of the games.

“Today has been crazy with the practice stoppage until April 10th. We are hopeful that our season starts back. Many prayers are going up to our lives back to normal. It’s heartbreaking for our seniors. I was ready to cry big tears for them today,” Moorefield Girls Track & Field coach Vivian Carr stated.

A reminder from health organizations to stay at home when sick and to wash one’s hands for at least 20 seconds are constantly being announced with West Virginia University kindly noting that the chorus of “Country Roads” by John Denver is a great song to use when washing hands.

There are chants used in the dugouts at Little League games which could be utilized for the same thing.

Student-athletes are finding ways to exercise and practice without the use of the normal facilities.

“It puts a big strain on the season and the kids, especially the seniors who have worked hard the last three seasons. I hope and pray that everyone works out for the rest of the season,” East Hardy Baseball coach Eric Heflin noted.

There is a beacon of hope shining in the distance that will eradicate this pandemic and put the sports season back on track with healthy student-athletes.