With Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement Thursday that schools in Tennessee will remain closed for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hope of spring sports returning were laid to rest.
Within minutes of the governor’s announcement, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) released a statement that all remaining TSSAA events for 2019-20, including spring sports and the postponed state basketball tournaments, were canceled.
“With the governor’s announcement of school closure for the remainder of the school year, all remaining TSSAA events for 2019-20, including all spring sports and the postponed state basketball tournaments, are cancelled,” reads a statement issued by TSSAA.
“This is an unprecedented time across our state and country, and we do not make this decision lightly. We thank all of the participants, their coaches, administrators, parents, and everyone else who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time, passion, and effort to high school athletics, especially these affected events.
“To our senior participants, we thank you for everything you have done for your schools and communities and wish you the very best in your bright futures. This is difficult, but the lessons you’ve learned and friendships you’ve made through high school activities will last your lifetime. We look forward to the resumption of high school athletics during the 2020-21 school year, and will continue work on those events at this time. The TSSAA thanks everyone involved for their patience and understanding throughout this process.
“Information will be given to member schools regarding summer athletic activities in regards to the sports calendar at a date in the near future.”
The news brought disappointment to the more than 60 senior spring sports athletes in area high schools and to the community with a long history of supporting athletics.
At this time, the 2020-21 school year is expected to resume, but guidelines are being evaluated by the governing organizations.
“I’ve been in education and coaching for 35 years, and I’d never imagine we’d see what we’ve experienced this spring,” said LCHS Athletic Director Jeff Bell. “It’s sad for the student body, athletes, coaches, parents and community but especially for all the seniors who will miss their final year. There are no words to describe that heartache. With the governor’s announcement and the TSSAA making their call, decisions have been made that we all must follow.
“These programs have worked hard year-round preparing for the season,” he added. “I want to thank everyone involved, players, coaches and parents, for their hard work. Hopefully, things will begin to return to some sense of normal soon. Even with that, there’s still a lot that remains to be determined moving forward into summer leagues and preparation for 2020 fall sports.”
Fayetteville High School’s Athletic Director Edward Keys said, “We were holding out as long as hope would let us. We felt the best case scenario was that we’d come back to school the first of May and play out the district tournament. The athletic directors in our district had all been in contact to work out a plan for that to happen given the opportunity; last week’s announcements took that off the table.
“We’ll have to see how things move forward,” he added. “This may very well affect the start of fall sports; if and when the seasons get underway is yet to be determined.”
The following is a list of senior athletes by school who did not get to compete this spring:
Baseball, Travis Simmons, Garrett Mashburn, Jackson Cothren, Clay Gentry, Landon Smith and Garrett Lee; softball, Kennedi Berryhill, Mollie Gordon, Kylie Hunter, Emily Price, Anna Summers and Rilea Treece; boys’ soccer, Cody Finn, John Sharp, Michael Cleveland and Dacoleon Kelso; girls’ tennis, Chloe Bridge, Whitley Smith, Adriana Castillo, Emma Womble and McKenna Morris; boys’ tennis, Evan Pollard, Jacob Thrasher, Curtis Felver, Gage Lineberry, West Jenkins and Austin Lapensee.
Baseball, GW Davis, Mac O’Connor, Drake McElyea, Tyler Wolaver and student assistant coach Will Ellis; boys’ soccer, Seth Ashby, Johnny Drew, Chase Hernandez, David Hill, Isaac Pace, Grant Reynold, Kilian Rutledge, Levi Sloan, Trace Swinney, Matthew Tito, Romello Twitty, Michah Watkins, Kadyn Williams and Eli Young. There are no senior softball players this year.
Riverside Christian Academy
Baseball, Riley Hall, Jonathan Knotts and Noah Morrow; softball, Taylor Butcher, Alyssa Hampton, Rachel Hill, Bethany McGee, Anna Beth O’Neal, Madde Shelton and Libby Wright; and soccer, Riley Hall, Jonathan Knotts, Sammy Morris, Jagger Steele and Andrew Thurman.