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Spring sports season on hold until April 18


March 18, 2020

Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot girls tennis was able to get two matches completed before the spring sports season was postponed by CHSAA on March 12. Seniors on this year's team are (from left) Maedee Trank-Greene, Annie Heinritz, Lily Sieben, and Tehnley White.

Citing "concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," the Colorado High School Activities Association has extended the moratorium on all sports and activities until at least April 18. Additionally, all CHSAA Music Events have been cancelled for 2020, and the CHSAA Hall of Fame event, scheduled for April 14, has been cancelled.

"It turned very quickly," Niwot High assistant principal and athletic director Joe Brown said of the abrupt decision to suspend the season, originally announced on March 12. "Since then it's been a matter of getting a hold of coaches as quickly as possible and talking them through the situation."

The situation as of March 17 is no competitions or practices can be held during the period between March 13 and April 18. Coaches are allowed only limited contact with their athletes during that period, and cannot mandate any training, practices or workouts. Players are allowed to do so voluntarily, on their own or in small groups, but CHSAA is encouraging schools to set "stricter standards on student gatherings outside of the high school."

Unsurprisingly, the senior athletes at Niwot are taking the news hardest.

"A lot of us that are looking to play in the future are bummed out by, because this is the time of year when we thought we'd make a lot of progress," Cougar soccer goalie Quinn Gossett said. "I think there's a lot of unknown, and I think it's affecting younger and older kids differently right now." The Niwot girls were set to open the 2020 season under first-year head coach Jenna Machado on March 17.

For coaches, the sudden disruption of their upcoming seasons has been just as shocking. While many did have a chance to meet with their entire teams on Thursday night, a few did not, including Niwot head track coach Maurice Henriques, who was at a junior varsity track meet in Severance when the news was announced.

"The kids were all on their phones, so they heard about it before I got word," Henriques said. "There were some tears, because some of them were seniors. But they started developing a plan right there at the meet."

He said team leaders have set up small practice groups that will help maintain fitness during the layoff. "We just provided them the workouts, and they set everything up."

There has been a similar effort by members of the Niwot girls golf team, which was slated to open its season at the Chili Chilly Invitational on March 14. Sophomore Sydney Rothstein, who was slated to be the Cougars' number three, has been keeping in contact with her teammates by text, and hopes to meet up with some on the course this week.

"We're not allowed to meet with Coach Weaver as a formal team, but he and I talked about some things we can do to stay prepared for when we jump back into things," she said of her efforts to keep the team motivated during the break. "Even though we're not necessarily meeting, there are still things we can do to practice. You're not playing as often, but at least you're staying on top of it."

In the event that the 2020 spring season is cancelled for good, as the NCAA has done, Niwot coaches are worried about the emotional impact on their athletes, especially to their juniors and seniors hoping to be noticed by a college recruiter.

"It's a huge blow," Niwot High counselor and cross country coach Kelly Christensen said. "In multiple sports, there's a lot of work that these kids have done that they won't get a chance to showcase, and that showcase can lead to scholarships or opportunities at the next level."

Even if the season resumes on April 18, there is no detail about what the remainder of the competition schedule will look like, or how the postseasons will be conducted. In any event, the lack of gate revenue during the five-week break will put a sizable dent in the athletic department's budget, according to Brown.

"As of right now, sports seasons won't be extended, but we don't really know what's going to happen," Brown said.

CHSAA has not given a timetable for a further decision, but stated in a March 17 release: "National and state decisions related to the COVID-19 virus are changing daily, even hourly, so new updates will be posted on CHSAANow.com and communicated via email to schools and media."


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