GAME OVER: District halts high school athletics; several youth sports leagues also on hiatus
The fields, tracks, diamonds and courts at local public high schools will be empty for at least the next month.
The Nevada Joint Union High School District has closed all public schools, which includes athletic activities, until April 13, due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We didn’t feel our students were unsafe or at a significant threat,” said NJUHSD Superintendent Brett McFadden. “What we are concerned about and didn’t want to do was contribute to the spread in our community.”
The decision came down Friday afternoon. Sports teams were allowed to meet and practice that day, but as of Saturday all organized practices, gatherings, workouts, meetings, banquets, fundraisers or any other team events are suspended until April 13.
“It’s disappointing,” said Nevada Union Athletic Director Daniel Crossen. “I feel for the kids, I feel for the seniors. At the same time, we totally understand. Student safety is No. 1, and this is the right call.”
The spring high school sports that are being affected include: baseball, boys golf, softball, track and field, boys tennis, co-ed tennis and boys volleyball.
“Above all else, student health and safety is our No. 1 concern,” Bear River Athletic Director Scott Savoie said. “So if this is what the experts and the District believes is in the best interest of the students, I’m all for it.
“I’m sad for the athletes, coaches, parents, community and especially the seniors. I look at our spring sports athletes and I feel their pain.”
Savoie said he’s uncertain whether sports will kick back up on April 13 or be canceled all together.
“In my 38 years as an educator, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Savoie said.
The District’s decision comes as others in the region are taking similar precautions. The Sacramento Bee reported every public school district in Sacramento and Placer counties will close for up to three weeks starting Monday.
“The reality is, if the District didn’t take the stance they did, it wouldn’t matter anyway because we’d have no one to play,” said Savoie, citing that several other teams in the Pioneer Valley League are facing similar situations in their districts. “I hate what we have to go through, but if it’s what we have to do to keep our kids and our community safe, so be it.”
California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s governing body for high school sports, released a statement Friday afternoon.
“The 10 Section Commissioners and the CIF State Office Staff have their annual spring meeting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. The spring sports season is the first matter set for discussion and coordination at this meeting,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said in a news release. “While schools and school districts have authority over the scheduling and rescheduling of regular-season contests, the Sections, and the State Office will discuss how recent school closures and school district’s postponement of their spring sports may impact postseason events.”
Youth sports leagues in the area are also temporarily halting play, including the Nevada County Girls Softball Association and the Grass Valley Little League.
“We have just received communication from Little League International recommending that all leagues implement a temporary suspension of all League activities until no earlier than April 6,” an email sent by the GVLL Board to player parents said. “Out of an abundance of caution we are therefore canceling all games, practices and opening ceremonies at this time. We will be in communication further after we have had a chance to meet and discuss this further.”
The NCGSA is hoping to resume April 13, according to an email from League President Matt Halvorson.
“The league was notified (Thursday) that all facilities we utilize have been shutdown of all activities. USA softball our parent league has advised all softball leagues to suspend opening days and follow their local county health advisories,” Halvorson said in an email to player parents. “The board will be holding an emergency meeting in the near future to discuss season options and hopefully gain more information on the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting all of us. As we gain more information we will pass it on to everyone as we work through this hurdle and appreciate everyone’s patience with this unfortunate event.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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