After an indefinite suspension of spring high school sports in Hawaii last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, the move to end the rest of the spring season was made official Friday.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) and its member leagues, including the Big Island Interscholastic Federation (BIIF), announced in a statement they have canceled the remainder of the 2020 interscholastic sports season after consulting with state leaders.
The cancellation affects all BIIF baseball, boys volleyball, girls water polo, golf, judo, softball, tennis, and track and field events, all of which will not finish the season that had barely opened before the coronavirus shut down sports worldwide.
The cancellation also means the end of high school sports for the hundreds of student-athletes on the Big Island that make up the 2020 senior class.
“I’m sure I speak for myself, our entire administrative staff and all of our athletic staff here at Konawaena when I say we feel for our kids, as I’m sure every athletic director in our state and across the nation does,” Konawaena athletic director Kellye Krug said. “Sports are such a unique part of so many people’s lives, and these are unprecedented times and it brings unprecedented events. It’s highly unfortunate that this senior class won’t be able to participate in their final season of spring sports. We’re heartbroken for all of them.
“I’ve shared with our athletes and our coaches that it’s unfortunate, but it is what we have to do to make sure we keep our kids, our people, and our community healthy and safe. Our hearts definitely go out to them, and we have them in our thoughts all the time. It just leaves us all a little speechless.”
In the organization’s statement released Friday, the HHSAA said the health and safety of the student-athletes was their top priority, and the organization explored “every scenario and option possible to save the spring season” before the cancellation.
“This decision to cancel the remainder of the spring season was extremely difficult for all involved considering the impact it will have on our students, parents, coaches and administrators throughout our state.” HHSAA executive director Chris Chun said in a press release. “I would like to commend our leadership team from our five leagues in working together, thinking outside the box, in the face of an unprecedented crisis.”
The HHSAA member leagues include the BIIF as well as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH), Kauai Interscholastic Federation (KIF), Maui Interscholastic League (MIL), and the Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA).
Krug said the Konawaena athletic department has been taking everything one day at a time when it comes to changes in the sports schedule due to the virus, and the school is remaining optimistic about the return of sports in the fall.
“The best thing we can possibly do is to plan for fall sports. We can plan as if our community is going to get better and we’re going to heal and we’ll be right back to what we called normal before all of this,” Krug said. “We’ll plan for a normal fall sports season and we’ll make sure we’re ready for that. And if things change along the way, we’ll make the adjustments.”
Kealakehe athletic director Alan Vogt also said the school is planning for fall sports to start on time, although that status may change any day.
“Right now, our plan is to anticipate that everything will start as normal,” Vogt said. “But, we are also concerned about budget cuts that might come to athletics and the Department of Education in general, so we’re waiting to see what will happen there.”
Vogt said while athletics are important, it’s also important to look at the bigger picture when it comes to the pandemic and the health of people in Hawaii. He said with the shut down of the schools for the remainder of the year, the shut down of spring sports was unfortunately ‘inevitable.’
“I feel sorry for the seniors,” Vogt said. “They worked hard for four years and now they won’t get to see the fruit of their labor, but you have to keep it all in perspective.”
Krug said she hopes the senior student-athletes can look at the “big picture” amid the chaos that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to the world.
“This will some how, some way, make them stronger,” Krug said. “I told a bunch of our seniors yesterday things happen for a reason and there’s a reason that it is this senior class that has to experience this. I can speak for our Konawaena seniors — this is a beautiful class and they are wonderful kids. They’re not just the best athletes we’ve had in a while, but they’re also so strong, they have great leadership, and their hearts are amazing.”