Spring sport athletes mourn the loss of their season
Apr 29, 2020 12:00PM
By Greg James
Kearns High School softball team played two games, winning one, before its season was suspended and later cancelled. (Photo courtesy of Will Sosi)
It was a season that was and wasn’t all at the same time.
On April 14, the Utah High School Activities Association released this statement; “In accordance with Gov. Gary Herbert and state superintendent Syd Dickson’s announcement that Utah schools will be closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the school year, the UHSAA has cancelled all remaining spring activities, including sports and state championships.”
Spring sports teams were participating in their second full week of competition in March when a two-week suspension was announced, leaving hope the season would resume. But after nearly three weeks of no games or practices, UHSAA officials made their final decision.
Before the suspension, some teams had made trips to warm climates such as St. George, Las Vegas and Arizona to get early season games. Others had only played one or two contests.
“This pandemic has hit everyone in different ways, especially for us involved in spring sports,” Kearns head girls softball coach Will Sosi said.
The Cougars played two games before the soft moratorium was enacted in March. They came away with one win over Davis and lost to Mountain Ridge. The UHSAA suspended spring sports March 16, a suspension that was extended to last at least until May 1.
The ultimate postponement meant boys and girls lacrosse will not award their first official state championships until next season. It also cancelled baseball, boys soccer, softball, track and field, boys tennis and girls golf.
“Our girls were starting to work together,” Sosi said. “I was excited to see that because team chemistry is so important. We had a video the night of the announcement. My seniors were all positive about the announcement, but I could tell they wanted to cry. They held back because they did not want me to see them cry.”
The UHSAA board statement went on to say, “We recognize the overwhelming disappointment this decision is for students and athletes, especially seniors. The Board’s highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of the students, schools and communities at this challenging time.”
Understandably, there has been backlash and disappointment. Several supporters have gone to social media to garner support of overturning the decision.
“It is just discouraging,” a parent of a West Jordan baseball team member Teresa Athlerley said. “The boys work so hard to get to this point, and now it is for nothing.”
Cyprus High School boys baseball coach Bob Fratto found out his retirement was official at the time of the announcement. He had planned on stepping down at the end of this season. He did not know it would come so soon.
“What a horrible way for him to go into retirement,” said Shane Anderson, assistant coach for Cyprus High baseball. “He had 32 years of hard work and dedication, and it all ended on a tweet. I also have a senior on the team, so this one hurts double. Wish there was a way they could have figured out how to play.”
The Kearns softball team did its best to enjoy its time as a team despite the lack of games. The team mom, Sina Sosa, spotlighted every girl throughout the layoff. She assembled photos, interesting facts and family information about every team member including the coaches. She also organized Tik-tok videos from each of the players.
“It was fun to watch them and even participate in one,” Sosi said. “We even had some of the shyest girls on the team participate. We had fun, that was something we could do even from a distance.”
Other schools participated in team-building activities during the layoffs; others watched team film or concentrated on schoolwork.
“My team’s overall reaction was disappointment and discouragement,” Hunter boys soccer coach Brett Solberg said. “We had been looking forward to this season since this group was freshmen. We (Hunter) were placed on a two-week quarantine (a student was diagnosed with the virus), and things changed so quickly. I have been really encouraging schoolwork and individual studies for the kids.”
High school seniors will never have a chance to compete at this level again, but for underclassmen there will be next year.
“It is about their safety,” Sosi said.