Veterans Field, Prior Lake

Veterans Field at Memorial Park in Prior Lake will remains empty until at least March 28 when the Minnesota State High School League will allow spring sports teams to resume with practices due the coronavirus pandemic. No games can be played until April 6.

It's usually an April snowstorm, lingering cold weather and too much rain that shortens an already short spring sports season.

Now, it's a global pandemic, the coronavirus.

That forced the Minnesota State High School League to cancel the entire boys basketball state tournament and and halt the the girls tourney dead in its tracks with just the championship game March 14 in Class 4A remaining.

Now, the league has put spring sports on hold. 

Consistent with Emergency Executive Order 20-02 issued March 15 by Gov. Tim Walz, there will be no MSHSL activities and athletics at any member school, including use of the facilities. Training and team practices could start up again March 28. No contests are allowed until April 6.

It's a fluid situation. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended March 15 that all gatherings and events of 50 people and more be postponed for eight weeks. The MSHSL doesn't have to follow that, but its March 15 press release suggests it will.

"As COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, the MSHSL will continue to monitor the most current information and directives from the Minnesota Department of Health, the governor of Minnesota and the Centers for Disease Control," the league said in a statement.

"The MSHSL will continue to work within the intent and support of the Emergency Executive Order and Department of Health recommendations in its actions and decisions."

Prior Lake Athletic Director Russ Reetz, also a member of the MSHSL board, said the CDC's latest recommendation hadn't been discussed yet. 

"The MSHSL has done a great job of communicating and will likely have a response," Reetz said. "All member schools will follow those recommendations."

Reetz said all South Suburban Conference athletic directors are meeting virtually to discuss modifying spring schedules.

Will spring sports be cancelled altogether? That has what the NCAA has done, returning one year of eligibility for all seniors in spring sports.

The NCAA also cancelled all winter national championships, including the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and the NCAA Wrestling Championships that were supposed to be held March 19-21 in Minneapolis.

But you can't give high school senior another year of eligibility, so those athletes may face the disappointment of having their senior spring seasons end with no play.

"We remain hopeful that we can provide a positive experience for our athletes," Reetz said. "The experience will look and feel differently. It is possible we play games without fans at some point in late April or early May.

"My office would attempt to stream those games, so parents and fans can watch from home," Reetz added.

How would a lack of spring sports season affect athletes hoping to get a Division I or II college scholarship or to get a Division III team to show interest?

"It is my hope that programs like USA Track & Field, legion baseball and club ball will be able to run full summer schedules, so athletes still have an opportunity to compete and be seen," Reetz said.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.


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