Spring sports suspended

“We are officially in uncharted waters”

Chevalier+with+Zion+Williamson%2C+New+Orleans+Pelicans+%28NBA%29+during+summer+conditioning.+

Photo courtesy of Ed Chevalier

Chevalier with Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) during summer conditioning.

By Shoshana Medved, Oak Park High School - CA

All spring sports are officially over, prompted by concerns over COVID-19 and the physical end to Oak Park’s school year. In a ParentSquare notice, superintendent Tony Knight explained the situation.

“As you may have heard, Governor Newsom announced today that all California school campuses need to remain closed for the remainder of the school year,” Knight wrote. “All in-person activities for the rest of the year are canceled. This includes all athletics, performances, prom, dances, open houses, awards ceremonies, culminations, graduations, and other such events.”

Newsom called for all Californian schools to close on April 1st. Almost a month earlier on March 11th, he issued guidelines that called for all social gatherings to be limited to ten people or less due to COVID-19. Many sporting events and practices consist of more than ten individuals, and for those that don’t, there were still worries of the virus spreading in group settings.

Initially, Oak Park Unified School District planned to suspend athletics only until April 6, as stated in a Student Square blast sent out on March 13. However, once the district decided to adjourn all classes through May 1st, they chose to extend sports’ suspension to match that time frame.

“We have had to postpone and reschedule sports contests before, but nothing like this,” Athletic Director Tim Chevalier wrote to the Talon. “Every year, I have to postpone and reschedule games and practices for rain, fire and smoke but … they do not compare at all to the current COVID-19 closure to school and all athletics. This closure is something completely different. It is unprecedented in its scope and size. We are officially in uncharted waters.”

For seniors playing their final season at OPHS, the suspension struck hard.

“As a senior in a spring sport, it’s heartbreaking,” senior and varsity softball co-captain Aubrey Billig wrote. “It feels like there is no closure to four years of hard work with this team.”

For other students, the 2020 spring season marked the first time they participated in a school sport. For freshman and track and field pole vaulter Madeline Sean, her feelings on the issue remain uncertain.

“I definitely can see how the school is trying to be safe [with this measure] because track has a large number of people in the same area,” Sean wrote. “But I feel like it’s unfair to make us stop a team sport, and I’m upset that we had to close so early. This was my first track experience.”

Chevalier was in charge of breaking the news to coaches and athletes.

“[It was] the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as Athletic Director,” Chevalier wrote. “Telling seniors that their last year of high school sports is suspended/over is a really difficult thing to do. They worked so hard and put in so much effort; my heart goes out to them.”

Despite the closure, Chevalier’s duties continue. He is already working on scheduling winter sports for next year, and in the meantime, planning for the return of athletes once school reopens.

“[The return of athletes] is going to be a party! I can’t wait!” Chevalier wrote. “I am so grateful to the coaches and athletes that make Oak Park special … Safety is our most important priority, and we will get to the end of this COVID-19 quarantine.”

This story was originally published on The Oak Park Talon on April 2, 2020.