Less than 24 hours after Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky schools would continue non-traditional instruction for the remainder of the school year, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association declared the suspension of the 2020 spring sports season.
“This is without question the most challenging period I have seen or faced in 36 years in this office,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in a news release. “This impacts so many people, but in the end, it is in the best interest of public health. We have been especially concerned with the graduating class of 2020, those seniors who put so much into their athletic participation opportunities hoping for one last time to shine before the home crowds or at postseason events. We know for the vast majority of them, their plans are already laid out, with college and career final preparation as their next chapter. We are also keenly aware that per almost all metrics, 94 percent of the students who participate in high school sports and sport-activities are involved in their last organized competition while in high school, as the lion’s share of participants will not play beyond this level. In the end, however, the health and safety of all individuals, participants, coaches, and spectators, is much more important than the various interscholastic activities.”
The decision impacts thousands of student-athletes across the state, including those of Madison Southern and Berea Community high schools.
“It’s a tough and unfortunate situation that we’ve all gone through over the last several weeks,” Berea Community Athletics Director Jerry Bingham said. “We have so many student-athletes and coaches who have worked so hard to prepare for what they hoped would be wonderful seasons and life long memories.”
Berea baseball coach Brent Billings said the decision is disappointing, especially for the seniors on the squad.
“I have spoken with my seniors, and I’ve told them that I’m sorry, and I’m proud of the work and leadership they have all shown throughout the years,” Billings said.
Billings added that the players will always be a part of Pirate baseball, and while baseball is important, it’s the game of life that counts when all is said and done.
“I’ve talked with them about their futures,” he said. “I want them to be upstanding and successful men going into the world. I’m here to help and support them going into this next chapter of their lives and beyond.”
First-year Madison Southern baseball Coach Jayson Langfels said though the news was tough to take, he came away impressed with the group of seniors mentality.
“These guys are so tough; they don’t complain,” he said. “I’m blown away with their maturity and passion for their school and team. They have taught me a lot with just the brief time I have spent with them.”
Southern softball coach Abbey Stepp echoed Langfels’ comments.
“My heart hurts for what could have been and our senior class,” she said. “I am proud of them and how they worked during the offseason. I was proud of the way they played in our scrimmage to start the season. I know they will all do great things.”
The KHSAA will continue to monitor the situation COVID-19 as the fall sports season approaches.