CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming High School Activities Association cancelled all spring sports seasons amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak across the state.
“As you know, the coronavirus epidemic has caused havoc in virtually every corner of our community and in lots of different ways,” WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird said in a Wednesday, April 22 memo, “One group that has been negatively affected in an unexpected way consists of the seniors who are graduating from high school this year.”
“For many, their proms have been cancelled; their diploma will not be awarded to them in front of classmates and family; and their high school
careers will end without the usual parties, open houses, handshakes, hugs and tears.”
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Laird said that senior student athletes have been particularly impacted.
“Not only are most of these seniors missing out on prom and graduation activities, spring sports have already been cancelled in many states, and according to the NCAA, 97 percent of them will never play an organized sport again,” he adds. “It’s part of the coming-of-age process that, in reality, is poignant and impactful not only for the students themselves, but also for their families.”
Laird joined National Federation of State High School Associations Executive Director Karissa Niehoff to pen the following opinion letter to Wyoming seniors impacted by the COVID-19 sports cancellations:
Loss is Gain for Wyoming’s High School Seniors
By Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Ron Laird, Commissioner of the Wyoming High School Activities Association.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like without sports?
Now we know. And it isn’t fun. No NCAA basketball tournament. No traditional Major League Baseball Opening Days. No professional basketball or hockey playoffs. No Little League or youth soccer. The Summer Olympics have been delayed for at least a year. And the list of community cancellations and postponements is nearly endless.
If you’re a high school sports fan, the disappointment runs even deeper, and it strikes much closer to home. The interruption of school has played havoc with the spring sports season here in Wyoming. Months of expectation and intense training appear to have been wasted for hundreds of high school sports teams. And depending where you live, the dream of scoring a decisive victory over an archrival or competing for a state championship has been permanently surrendered.
It’s “wait ‘til next year” for freshmen, sophomores and juniors. But for most of the high school seniors who participate in a spring sport, this is more than a lost season. It’s the end of an active sports career. The NCAA estimates that, depending on the sport, only about three percent of all high school athletes go on to play a sport in college.
The senior soccer player who has been playing since they were five years old will never have the opportunity to score a goal again. The champion runner who has diligently trained to shatter the high school state record may never compete in the 800 again. The young man and woman who were elected captains of their tennis or golf teams will never know what this spring would have had in store for them.
But here’s what will happen, and it’s significant. That soccer player has learned that soccer is about far more than trying to score a goal; it’s about a group of young men and women from vastly different backgrounds coming together as a team. The sprinter has discovered that if a person has enough determination, barriers once thought impossible can be broken. And the captains of the tennis and golf teams will take the leadership skills they have learned as a student-athlete and apply them to everything they do for the rest of their life.
Their seasons—indeed, their athletic careers—may be over, but the character those senior athletes have developed because they participated in education-based high school sports lives on. It will encourage, guide and positively influence communities here in Wyoming for the next
generation and beyond.
High school seniors, thank you for the contribution you have made to your team, your school and your community. And thank you for the shared sacrifice you are making right now.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” To those WHSAA student-athletes who graduate this spring, you may have lost your senior sports season, but you have gained both intelligence and character because you participated in high school athletics. Best wishes for continued growth and success.WHSAA
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.