When the NHIAA decided that it had no other choice than to cancel the remaining winter tournament games due to schools being closed because of the coronavirus, Keene State mens basketball guard Liam Johnston reacted to the news on Twitter:
“I can’t believe it’s already over.”
Johnston’s feeling of disbelief has been one that athletes across the globe can relate to, with most everything cancelled because of the pandemic. Schools without sports, along with other extracurriculars, makes for a huge adjustment.
“I’ve been coaching for 35 years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this,” Keene State baseball coach Ken Howe said. “It’s a situation not only us at Keene State are dealing with, but realistically all over the world. We’re just trying to see what the next steps are.”
So what are those next steps?
Right now, the answer to that is: Life will go on without them — for the time being.
It’s something that all have been unaccustomed to as sports historically have served as something the general public can always rely upon as a source of comfort, a getaway from events happening in the real word.
That comfort doesn’t have a firm timetable to return.
Schools throughout the Monadnock Region have been closed and many employees have shifted to working remotely. Student athletes who are sitting at home now doing their schoolwork don’t know if they will ever have their spring seasons, while others are still getting over the fact that a bid at a state championship title has been taken away.
Those state championship bids are much more meaningful than one may think, and the reactions from coaches throughout the area embodies that. No coach can get those moments back for their kids. It’s gut-wrenching.
“A lot of the reasons kids go to school is not because they love school, per se, but because they get a chance to play sports, see their friends, on top of getting the academics. I get it,” Keene High baseball coach and guidance counselor Dan Moylan said. “That’s a driving factor behind them going to school. That’s the highlight of their experience.”
The winter season has come and gone, there’s no changing that. Now, the question surrounds spring sports and whether they will ever start at all at the high school level.
The Keene State Owls baseball and softball teams were just in Florida last weekend playing games, but had to return home because the Little East Conference canceled the remainder of conference and championship play.
Now, spring coaches in the area are forced to yield their roles, no matter how it impacts play moving forward.
“Whatever our guys are doing, they’re doing on their own,” Howe said. “Whether it be in homes or something like that. It’s unprecedented what we’re all going through in the world of sports, at all levels, even pro sports.”
If spring sports at the high school level are able to return for the 2020 season, it will unquestionably help return life to normality.
For now, school is present but adapting to learning without also having extracurricular activities to look forward to is something that may never be accepted. But now it has to be.
Unlike past years, when sports served its role as a distraction for many people, the coronavirus is new and the impact of it is rapidly evolving. It’s a change that hasn’t produced a timetable. There’s hope for a return to normalcy, but how much?
“With other things, there seems like there was always an end in sight, or at least a plan in sight,” Moylan said. “But the end of this is really murky in terms of what we’re going to do. It seems to be a different situation every day.”
Liam Johnston’s tweet is right on point, but now it transitions to, ”Will it even start back up?” In time, yes. But for now, spring sports have plenty of reasons to worry.