By Bill Spinks
It didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that schools will not be reopening for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.
A couple of hours after Abbott’s announcement, the University Interscholastic League added the news that all senior student-athletes knew was coming but were dreading: that all activities and state championships have been canceled for the rest of this school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, the UIL will not be crowning champions in seven sports: boys’ basketball, baseball, softball, track and field, soccer, golf and tennis. The UIL had completed its girls’ basketball championships the week before all athletics were suspended.
"Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue," UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt said in a news release. "Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-21 school year."
Additionally, Class 5A and 6A football teams will not hold spring practices. All UIL football schools will begin practice for the 2020 season at the same time on Monday, Aug. 3.
"I am grateful to the UIL staff for their leadership and dedication to students," UIL Legislative Council Chair Curtis Rhodes said in the news release. "Together we will get through this and we look forward to the day students are once again able to participate in education-based interscholastic activities."
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, of which Ovilla Christian School is a member, also called off the rest of spring sports on Friday.
The UIL has adjusted its schedule because of illness one time before, in 2009 at the outset of that year’s H1N1 flu epidemic, when it suspended activities for two weeks and rescheduled the state track and field championships for mid-June.
This spring, the UIL first suspended the state boys’ basketball tournament in San Antonio on March 12 as public COVID-19 fears began to rise, and suspended all interscholastic activities a day later. The first stoppages were designated to last until March 29, but that was extended to May 4 and then made indefinite after Abbott announced that schools would remain closed until that date.
As recently as April 5, the UIL remained optimistic that all state championship sports would be played to their conclusions "should that opportunity present itself," UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison said.
As expected, there was plenty of reaction from local schools to the cancellation of all spring seasons.
"Not the end of the season we wanted," Midlo Boys Soccer posted on Twitter. "Great team of competitors who finished district tied for first and offered up some of the most exciting last minute wins we’ve even seen!"
Midlo Boys Soccer added that more honors and announcements will follow the next few weeks.
"To our EHS senior athletes who will not get to finish their year: We appreciate your dedication and hard work at becoming a part of your Ennis Lions sports teams," Ennis Football posted on social media. "Hopefully the disappointment will pass, and a sense of satisfaction of achievement can console loss of the finish.
"Know that our hearts, our respect, and our admiration go with you into the next phase of Life. We will miss you all. Once in ... Forever in."
Added LadyNDNSoccer on Twitter: "It breaks my heart but the year has ended. An awesome year with some awesome young ladies. In a season with one of the best winning percentages in our programs history it has come to an end. Love and miss you ladies!"