The outbreak of coronavirus has brought significant changes for the athletes at Champlain Valley Union High School.
First came the postponement, then cancellation of the winter sports season – and with that the end of the line for the CVU girls basketball team.
Then came the postponement of the spring sports season, with all practices and games canceled until April 6.
“We were debating last week if we were if we are going to have to delay spring sports,” said Bob Johnson, Associate Executive Director of the Vermont Prinicpals Assocation. “We made the decision on Friday that we were going to postpone but we didn’t know how long.
“When Gov. Scott came out and said April 6th, we decided that was what we were going to do as well.”
The fast-moving situation caused heartbreak for the Redhawks’ girls basketball team when the Division I semifinals and finals were canceled.
“I met with them right after the press release went out and of course they were all in tears,” said CVU athletic director Dan Shepardson. “I feel for them, I know that...they are disappointed.”
The semifinals, which were due to be played last Thursday, March 12, were at first going to be played without fans at the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gym. But the closing the of the college campus and rising concerns caused the Vermont Principals Association to postpone the games early on Thursday.
Then, on Friday the 13th, eerily enough, the season was canceled and the remaining 12 girls basketball teams left without an end to the season.
“This was an incredibly hard decision to make,” Johnson said. “These girls have put in a lot of hard work, to be told at the end that you can’t compete for a championship is difficult.”
On Monday morning, the VPA announced that they were designating the remaining teams as co-champions in their respective divisions.
Champlain Valley, Essex, Mount Mansfield and Rutland were all named quad-champions in Division I.
CVU had earned the No. 1 seed in D-I, came into the semifinals with a 21-0 record and had beaten all three teams remaining in the postseason.
“You don’t go with the higher seed because there is always the possibility of an upset,” Johnson said. “We honestly felt we had to provide some sort of recognition for the work that these girls have done. But we have no other fairer way to deal with that.”
In Division II and IV, the two teams set for the finals were named co-champions and in Division III the four teams were also named quad-champions.
“It’s unusual and awkward but it seemed like the right thing to do for kids,” Shepardson said. “That was why the games were cancelled, because of the health concerns for our students. This just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Now, the spring season is also a question mark with the teams not reporting until April 6. The VPA is planning on holding a spring season, whatever changes that may require to deal with a shortened calendar.
“We were all in agreement, we want to get in a spring sports season in,” Shepardson said. “If we can get games started by May, we can get a pretty much full season in.”
CVU is also encouraging student-athletes to get out and move, though to stay away from large gatherings
“The message I sent out was that we have to treat this seriously,” Shepardson said. “While these youngsters are the most minimally at risk, there should be no captains’ practices. Encourage your kids to work out on your own.”
Some changes will likely be coming when the spring season starts, like pitchers and catchers reporting at the same time as the rest of the athletes and reducing the number of practices needed to play and the number of games needed to qualify for the postseason.
“We are determined that we will have a spring sports season,” Johnson said. “That means we understand we are going to modifying the season, we are going to waive certain requirements. We are going to do the best that we can with it.”