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FHSAA makes it official: spring sports seasons cancelled

April 24, 2020
By CJ HADDAD (cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

With Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing the statewide closure of schools for the remainder of the year, the Florida High School Athletic Association on Monday made the decision to cancel all spring sports.

The FHSAA stated all association-affiliated events, including the state series and all championship events for spring sports, will not take place.

"The safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials, and fans is our top priority," read the announcement. "With the evolving threat of the CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19), we must ensure that we do not contribute to the spread of this illness. We are deeply saddened for our student-athletes who have seen their seasons and/or high school careers end so abruptly. Our Association knows the impact and role high school athletics play in the lives of so many and will continue to work towards the betterment of high school sports. We know this is a trying time, but the health and safety of all is of utmost importance to this Association."

Article Photos

MICHAEL PISTELLA / mpistella@breezenewspapers.com

Ida Baker senior AJ Marinello bats during what now was the Bulldogs’ last game of the 2020 spring season March 12. To view more photos from the game, see the Cape Coral Breeze Facebook page.

This is certainly a blow to all student athletes around the state, most notably for seniors who will not see their final season play out.

"We are heartbroken for our senior class," said Cape Coral High School Athletic Director Thomas Kenna. "The Class of 2020 has been incredible and will always be remembered."

Mariner High School Athletic Director Steve Larsen shared Kenna's sentiments and surely every high school athletic director who has had to cancel spring sports in their area. It's especially disappointing that seniors will not being able to finish what they started four years ago.

"I feel horrible for the athletes and the coaches for not being able to have that final year experience" Larsen said. "We started and completed about 25 percent of the season, but none of us were prepared for the type of finality that we have been handed."

Overall, this is a decision felt by every student-athlete and those who mold the future.

"It's extremely disheartening from an athletic director standpoint. Our main goal is to put student athletes in the best position to succeed, and we can't do that," Larsen said. "The best we can do is impart the lessons that this pandemic is teaching us."

"While the decision is hard to swallow, ultimately it's the right thing to do for the safety of students and their families during this pandemic."

Kenna agreed.

"We are saddened by the news, but the FHSAA made the right call," Kenna said. "The health and well-being of our students come first."

"My heart breaks for all the seniors and players that may never get a chance to put an Island Coast jersey on again," Island Coast Athletic Director Michael Dubbelde said. "This is completely uncharted territory for the vast majority of us and everyone's being challenged in a multitude of ways. After talking to many of our athletes and coaches, however, many are stepping up in their efforts to help their families and community, which makes me proud to be an Island Coast Gator."

The FHSAA also stated that under the guidance of the Florida Department of Education and review of Florida Statues and FHSAA Bylaws, "no additional eligibility will be granted for spring sport athletes."

The FHSAA noted Bylaw 9.4.7, which states a student must be an undergraduate.

Bylaw 9.5.1 states a high school student is limited to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility.

It reads: "A student is limited to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility beginning with semester he/she begins ninth grade for the first time. This does not imply that the student has eight semesters of participation. After eight consecutive semesters, the student is permanently ineligible. If a student enters a 9th semester of high school, he/she is no longer eligible to participate."

FHSAA Bylaw 10.4.1 does provide the opportunity for a member school to appeal an ineligible ruling or determination on behalf of a student. The FHSAA asks student-athletes to contact their athletic director to discuss the criteria for an undue hardship waiver.

"The FHSAA decision on eligibility is a complex matter with many moving parts," Kenna said. "Although it is hard to embrace, based on the information provided it is the right decision."

The FHSAA hopes student-athletes will remember the bonds made on the field with teammates and coaches while representing their school in a positive way.

"To all our senior student-athletes, we thank you for dedicating your time and efforts to your school, your coaches and your teammates," the release states. "Cherish the memories you have made and embrace all that the future holds for you. While we are saddened that you are unable to compete this season, we could not be prouder to have been represented by such hard-working individuals."

- Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

 
 
 

 

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