11-19-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

HARTFORD VARSITY BOYS SOCCER TEAM… (from the left): Front row – Ernesto Rodarte, Alexis Rivas, Reynaldo Cortez, Jose Rios, Jakob Baham, Alejandro Francisco, Dylan Kuehnle, Armando Garcia and Michael Mendoza; Back row – Kaden Johnson, Kevin Rios, Yael Sanchez-Lopez, Kevin Parra, Alan Gonzalez, Danny Gutierrez, Sebastian Gonzalez, Aaron Robles-Lopez, Bryan Torres, Caiden Smith, Bryan Cardoso, Elijah Cowgill, Andres Cardoso, Jesus Rivas, Assistant Coach Kyle Wright and Head Coach Nick Blackmer. Not pictured: Assistant Coach Abel Robles, Assistant Coach Francis Aboagye, Erick Morales and Josue Pineda. (Photo courtesy of A&A Sports Photography)

Back on hold: MHSAA suspends fall, winter sports amidst COVID-19 rise

Hartford Press Box By Jerrod Birmele

As a sports writer, this is not the news you want to hear or see. On Sunday night, an announcement came down by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that a “three-week pause” would be happening throughout the state of Michigan, due to a large resurgence of COVID-19 cases to even higher levels than we had in the spring.

Part of Sunday night’s announcement was the news that high schools statewide would be shuttered during the pause, due to an increased risk at those levels of passing the virus around. According to state statistics, nearly 50% of the most recent outbreaks occurred in grades 9-12 schools alone. The state left the closure of entire districts in the hands of local administration, and the entire Hartford Public School district made the decision to close for the three-week period on Monday, Nov. 16.

In terms of athletics, that left the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) no choice but to also suspend athletic events effective immediately for both fall and winter sports during the mandated closure. This means that there will be no football regional playoff games at all this weekend, nor any volleyball quarterfinal matches or girls swimming and diving finals. Also, all winter sports that have begun practices in preparation of a season must also suspend all activities through the mandated closure or until the new orders are amended. In terms of sports affected, Hartford was completely through their fall sports seasons when this announcement came down. However, winter sports including girls basketball and competitive cheerleading had begun practice last Monday, and boys basketball and wrestling were expected to begin on Monday of this week. But, with this announcement, all sports will see their practice and game schedules pushed back until at least Dec. 8 at the earliest.

In a memorandum issued by the MHSAA office, the association is exploring all options to complete the three remaining fall sports tournaments while at the same time beginning discussions to revise winter sports plans including the aforementioned practice and competition calendars. The MHSAA says they will remain transparent and flexible, while sharing information and updated timelines as soon as that process is completed.

The ultimate goal for the association, since summer, remains unchanged. They still plan for three sports seasons that they anticipate being able to complete during the 2020-21 school year.

These past eight months have been very difficult on everyone, including our student-athletes. They have endured quite the range of emotions in such a short time span. It all started with the cancellation of spring sports last school year, and continues to pile on with this newest adjustment to their everyday lives. But give them all a lot of credit for continuing to work hard despite all the looming uncertainties that lie ahead.

We, as the general public, can help get things back on track by doing the simplest of things – like wearing a mask when you are out and about, washing our hands, social distancing, and staying home when you are sick. If we do some of these things, no questions asked, than we can have basketball, wrestling and competitive cheerleading sooner than later. But, we must act now before the situation gets even worse, and we have a pandemic that really gets out of control.

Our student-athletes deserve the opportunity to enjoy the part of high school they will remember most. As a former athlete myself, I think back to those opportunities I had to create memories with my fellow classmates and friends, and often think of those moments to this day. Let’s all work together, as one community; to make sure that this current generation gets the same chance to create those lasting memories that we all did back when we were in our teenage years.

I know I do not want to be writing these dark articles, and instead be concentrating on all the great achievements our Indian student-athletes are achieving. I want to get back to writing those