Kansas State High Schools Activities Association finally made the official decision Wednesday to cancel spring championships, competitions, and festivals in 2020 because of the pandemic of COVID-19.
The announcement comes a day after Governor Laura Kelly’s Executive Order regarding the closure and cessation of in-person instruction in all Kansas schools through May 29, 2020.
“The KSHSAA recognizes the value of school activities for all students and school communities,” the organization said in a statement. “But the current situation does not permit the opportunity for school activities to take place in a manner that is consistent with the very reason school activities exist.”
With the cancellation of all Kansas high school spring sports, the everyday life of the coaches, faculty members and players have undergone many different changes.
The Maur Hill-Mount Academy baseball team won’t even get the chance to build upon 2019’s 19-1 season that ended a victory away from a KSHSAA state tournament berth.
The Ravens lost to the eventual state champion Sabetha, 13-6, in the playoffs and will have to settle for a 2021 rematch.
Maur Hill-Mount president, headmaster and coach Phil Baniewicz was fully aware of the circumstances that were heading his state’s way, and he understood exactly why the cancellations had to happen.
“My first reaction was, you know, we figured that was coming with everything that’s happened health-wise,” Baniewicz said. “When you put safety first, these kinds of things have to take place, and we understand that.”
However, Baniewicz feels remorse for all his players — especially the seniors, who were only able to experience three practices before KSHSAA’s decision.
The Ravens would’ve played their first game Tuesday against Doniphan West at home.
“There’s a little bit of disappointment for the seniors,” Baniewicz said. “For a guy like Abe Siebenmorgen, who’s done so much for three years, knowing he was probably going to have another great year and could lead our team to just another great season. He won’t get the chance to do that. It’s a little bit sad.”
Siebenmorgen’s junior year saw him hit .390, the highest of any returning players this year. He also led the pitching staff with a 0.62 ERA and went 9-0 on the mound.
With strong stats like this, Siebenmorgen and the Ravens looked primed for another run that will never happen.
Despite this, Baniewicz believes his players can look on the bright side and find an optimistic way to view this unprecedented scenario.
“Even someone like Abe and other students understand the situation,” Baniewicz said. “I think they’re doing a good job of looking at the bigger picture.”
While no baseball and other spring sports being played, this also means sports medicine doctors are having to change up their lifestyles as well.
Dr. Pam Rizza of Atchison Hospital is no exception to the effects the coronavirus outbreak as she covers Atchison High School, Maur Hill, Pleasant Ridge and several other surrounding school districts.
Rizza’s set in stone schedule of work from seeing patients during her shift to covering sporting events has now shifted to an even busier workload that isn’t as predictable due to the abolishment of spring activities.
“I think my day-to-day work is going to be a lot different than it has been,” Rizza said. “It’s hard to tell exactly now what things are going to look like tomorrow versus what things are going to look like in a couple weeks from now. I think as a healthcare professional, I’m going to be extremely busy one way or the other, so I’m trying to be flexible to be helpful and anyway that I can; if that’s taking care of athletes or taking care of sick people in the hospital, then I need to do that as well.”
Rizza said the idea of no sports or even school was jarring to the say least.
“The reaction of not just sports but school in general has had kind of a mixed reaction, because as a parent you’re disappointed about all of the activities and education that your child might miss out on,” Rizza said. “That being said, the school district is working really hard to implement learning that is going to be really effective — it’s just going to look different than it has in the past.”
As for the sports side of things, Rizza understands the disappointment but believes the actions being taken now are for the best.
“Having a whole season to be missed is certainly upsetting,” Rizza said. “Everyone is making sacrifices right now. We just have to understand that the sacrifices we’re making now are trying to prevent people from getting really ill and potentially dying in the future.”
With the country experiencing a pandemic, Rizza reassures that the necessary precautionary suggestions are being put into place if there was a case of COVID-19 in Atchison County.
“There’s a lot of people working to put plans in place to prevent things from feeling hectic if the need arises, essentially,” Rizza said. “If we do start seeing cases of coronavirus within Atchison County, we’re trying to put stuff in place now to prevent chaos, essentially.”
Atchison High School athletic director Jason Schroeder said he is disappointed that he won’t be able to see their student athletes compete this season but acknowledge the decision was necessary
“It is with great sorrow that I pass along this news. I was looking forward to watching our students compete in the activities they love in the coming months,” Schroeder said. “However, in this challenging time we all must do our part to flatten the curve of COVID-19.”
With most of the nation contemplating self-quarantine and no sports to keep everyone entertained, Baniewicz has a solution to help his family pass the time after his Zoom meetings and not being able to see them as much in the past before the outbreak.
“Going out to play wiffle ball will be great,” Baniewicz said. “It’ll be the second thing I’ve been able to do with that. I was able to go on a walk with one of my kids yesterday.