MHSA cancels spring high school athletics

| April 28, 2020 8:42 AM

The Montana High School Association’s April 22 notice cancelling spring sports included a statement that will likely yield little consolation for senior athletes at Libby High School and Troy High School.

“The Class of 2020 will not be forgotten,” the MHSA declared in an April 22 news release announcing the association’s decision because of COVID-19.

MHSA officials previously delayed deciding the fate of spring sports, hoping the pandemic would fade enough to allow schools to resume in-person instruction by May 4.

That didn’t happen. Gov. Steve Bullock announced Wednesday a phased approach to reopening the state from closings previously directed to try to limit the spread of the respiratory disease. Bullock’s approach gave public schools the option of returning to in-classroom teaching beginning May 7.

The MHSA said its executive board had tried to remain optimistic but recognized that proceeding with spring sports at this late date was not realistic.

“We empathize with all the students, schools and communities that this decision impacts, and especially with the many seniors that have shown maturity and resolve as their culminating year of high school has been impacted beyond activities and athletics due to this COVID-19 pandemic,” the MHSA said.

Justin Young, athletic director for Troy Public Schools, said the association’s announcement was not surprising.

“I think everyone saw the writing on the wall when we went into shelter-in-place that spring sports would not happen,” Young said.

He said there’s been a grieving process about the potential loss of spring sports but it seems enough time has passed that both students and coaches have approached acceptance that the 2020 season will not happen.

Jim Germany, athletic director at Libby High School, said he appreciated that the MHSA waited as long as it could before making what he described as a very difficult decision.

“I also understand that since our school is a member of the MHSA, we will respect their decision,” Germany said. “But it truly breaks my heart. Our poor seniors deserve some sort of closure for their high school athletic careers and that has now been stripped from them.”