The new athletic facility at Messalonskee High School in Oakland is void of much activity Wednesday. The Maine Principals’ Association met on Thursday and elected to cancel the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“It can be compared to ripping off a bandaid, knowing it is the right thing to do but it still hurts.”

Those were the words of Brunswick High School athletic director Jeff Ramich after the Maine Principals’ Association announced on Thursday the cancellation of high school spring sports for the 2020 season.

Across the state of Maine, the cancellation of Maine spring sports was on the horizon, especially after the Maine Education Department announced earlier this week its recommendation of distance learning for the remainder of the 2019/20 school year.

The sound of the bat hitting the ball at Lisbon High School this year won’t happen as the MPA has elected to forgo the 2020 spring sports season. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

“It is with regret that the Maine Principals’ Association announces the cancellation of the 2020 spring athletic season,” MPA director Michael Burnham said in a statement. “Please know that this was not a decision that was taken lightly, but one that the leadership at the MPA felt necessary to help support the recommendations from our Governor’s Office, the Maine CDC, and Commissioner (Pender) Makin, and the Department of Education, that schools across the state not come back in session and provide remote and distance learning opportunities for the remainder of the school year.

The thoughts of most administrators focused on the seniors, who will miss their final sports season, as well as the chance to likely participate in a traditional graduation ceremony, with stadiums and gymnasiums packed with parents as well-wishers witness senior classes heading out for that next step.

“It is incredibly difficult,” said Morse AD Nathan Priest. “I think a lot of us were holding out hope. While the decision isn’t surprising, it is heartbreaking. We have a tremendous group of seniors and for them to not have a final season is very difficult. We will do the best we can in honoring them while also keeping in touch with all of our athletes who are impacted by this.”

Mt. Ararat High School boys lacrosse coach Matt Haskell, here gathering his team last year, will not have the chance to play games after the MPA canceled the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

“I’m at a loss for words on this, though I have to say it was not unexpected at this point,” Mt. Ararat AD Geoff Godo remarked. “We will push forward and do whatever we can to help all students maneuver through the rest of this school year and prepare for the summer and fall.”

For area ADs, the plan is to answer all the questions that will likely come from their staffs and athletes.

“We need to stay positive and just be there for everybody,” Ramich said. “I might not have all the answers, but I will be here for my coaches and athletes.”

“We are working on some different things for our seniors. I don’t think this caught many of them by surprise. It still hurts, though,” said Priest.

The MPA also understands the importance of athletics, but felt keeping the athletes, coaches and fans safe was the top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand the importance that these athletic and performing arts programs play in the lives of students, their families and their communities, but also recognize that these education-based activities are a part of the overall educational experience and at this time of uncertainty to adhere with the recommendations of staying at home, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding face-to-face instruction and large group gatherings, is crucial for us to persevere,” said Burnham.

 

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