In response to Executive Order 20-41 issued Thursday, April 23 by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, the Minnesota State High School League, under direction of the League’s Board of Directors, has declared, effective immediately, all activities and athletics that occur during the spring season have been cancelled for the 2019-2020 school year.
The decision of the League is aligned with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Minnesota Department of Health and is in support of practices that focus on community health and safety. The MSHSL became the 37th high school association in the country to cancel its spring sports calendar.
“This difficult decision was one we had hoped we would not need to make.” League Executive Director Erich Martens said in a press release. “Our activities and athletics offer so much to so many students and their school communities, and we thank all who work to provide these amazing opportunities for students. We also value the incredible benefits of strong and supportive connections between students and their coaches and advisors, and our hope is that these will continue even during this time when they are not able to participate or meet face to face.”
The cancellation includes all league athletics, activities and fine arts.
Every Thursday, directors from the MSHSL have had virtual meetings with athletic directors to respond to any questions or concerns on where the league stood. As the weeks rolled on, the answers on what was upcoming became clearer by the week.
“You got that feeling that we aren’t going to have a spring season… You could hear the heavy sighs through the computer even though we were all on mute,” Morris Area athletic director Mark Ekren said of Thursday’s virtual meeting with MSHSL.
Freshman, sophomores and juniors lost a season of sports but they will have another opportunity whereas the seniors had their participation in school activities come to an abrupt end.
“It is a difficult situation for everyone. You tell the kids to play every game like it’s their last, but you usually think they have one more season before it truly is,” Hancock athletic director Chad Christianson said. “This is just one of those examples to show us that we never know when our last game might be, especially the seniors that were looking forward to playing together one last time.”
“I feel so bad for our seniors. All the hard work, especially our track kids, have put in. My heart goes out to them,” Ekren said. “You look at a kid like Maddie Carrington and how hard she worked this winter with her knee injury to be able to run track this spring. I watched her all winter long, in the weight room, to get ready. Now they don’t get their senior season and it just sucks.”
Looking ahead, now that the spring season is officially over. The MSHSL will focus on summer contact and how this all will look come fall sports in August.
“Can Kevin Pope get in touch with his football guys? Can Leah talk with the volleyball team? I had Dale Henrich ask me about contacting his girls basketball players and his cross country kids,” Ekren said. “The MSHSL didn’t have any immediate answers (at the Thursday meeting).”
“Our work will continue in providing leadership and guidance for our member schools and will soon turn to the summer and planning for a return to participation this fall,” Martens said in the press release. “At this time, everything we can do to slow the spread and impacts of COVID-19 will help ensure the health of all, and will most certainly increase the chances that programming for students can return.”