by Joyce Lee, Sports Reporter
photo by Hedi Skali
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) issued a statement on April 24 announcing that the spring sports season would go from postponed to canceled, consistent with Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to close schools for the remainder of the academic year.
With the season now canceled, coaches’ time commitments before the cancellation proved futile. Girls varsity lacrosse coach and biology teacher Molly Estrada said she spent two hours preparing equipment and gear for tryouts the afternoon before school closed.
“[It’s] definitely very frustrating, for sure,” she said. “We all kept hoping that the season would still happen, even though it might just get a little condensed.”
In their statement, the MIAA said “[they] worked aggressively to construct optional structures to save the opportunity.”
However, the closing of schools for the rest of the year was too significant of an obstacle to navigate.
Athletic director Patricia Gonzalez, who is affiliated with four different committees within the MIAA, said that the MIAA tried their hardest to salvage the season.
Bob Jampol, the girls varsity tennis coach, had coached for 35 consecutive years prior this spring’s cancellation. Although he said he is disappointed, Jampol said he understands that the MIAA made their decision in the name of public safety.
Junior Eero Helenius, a three-season track athlete, said the impact of the cancellation on students who are looking to be recruited is devastating, as the college athletics recruitment process typically weighs junior year results disproportionately heavily. Since many tournaments and competitions are also canceled, Helenius said there will be fewer opportunities for athletes to establish better times and create stronger records.
“It’s going to be a lot more difficult to make the case for why you should play a sport at their school,” he said.
Despite this, Helenius said that nearly all athletes are in the same boat.
“It is not a local phenomenon that the season has been canceled,” he said. “At this point, you just have to keep fighting.”
Estrada said that the cancellation makes self-motivation that much more important.
“It’s really up to [the student athletes], like it always is, if you want to play at the next level. You have to be the person driving yourself forward,” she said.
Estrada said that along with recruitment hopefuls, those losing out on the most are perhaps seniors.
Senior Seb Pike played baseball at Newton South for his entire high school career and said he looked forward to reaching new heights with the team during his last season.
“I feel like this year we had our best roster, so I think we would have had a good shot at the end of the season [for a tournament win],” he said. “I know that a lot of kids put in a lot of work for this season, so it’s too bad.”
Gonzalez said that the class of 2020 has always taken on a leadership role in the community.
“They are very big on the community outreach and the things we do for others,” Gonzalez said. “They are strong [and] they have been involved for four years and that kind of leadership, it’s very important to us.”
Jampol, too, said he hoped to enjoy the last year with the seniors, who he said have contributed greatly to the teams.
With the spring season canceled, athletes and coaches are weighing the feasibility of a summer season. Gonzalez said that whether or not a summer season will occur is still up in the air.
“The association doesn’t have any control of the summer,” she said. “The rule is, we try to keep summer away from school.”
With so many pieces to the puzzle, even coordinating the start of the fall season with the beginning of school will be difficult, as the usual time frames could be changed.
“You have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst …, and go for it knowing the joy of life is always in everything and we need to find it,” Gonzalez said.