Spring sports in the state of Pennsylvania were put on hold Friday due to the state mandated school shutdown, canceling all after school activities until at least March 30 in an attempt to try and quell the spread of the coronavirus.

Monday the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) provided an update for high school sports in the state, outlining that teams cannot organize their own practices, leaving local teams with no other option but to just sit and wait.

Shippensburg Area Senior High School coaches lamented the possibility of student athletes losing their senior year of competition, but remain cautiously optimistic that their teams will see the field/track again this spring.

“I’m not sure anybody ever has gone through something like this,” Greyhound baseball coach Brian Etter said Tuesday. “I understand why the schools are shut down and the states are doing what they’re doing to try and isolate people as best they can. But having said that, you only get one senior year in high school. I think back to my senior year and I can’t imagine it. It’s tough. My heart breaks for them.”

During this time of uncertainty, coaches are left with messaging their players and athletes to try and help their spirits and keep them motivated, hoping that they stay ready.

“I know that there are kids that are still doing workouts, which is great. I went for a walk on the Rail Trail today and saw an athlete out running. They are trying their best to keep themselves in shape,” said Greyhound track and field coach Mike Sassin.

Coach Etter has urged his players to find a way to get in an individual workout anyway they can, whether it be running, working on their hitting, or throwing a ball against a sheet in their basement to keep their arm loose.

“Not knowing makes it tough on the kids to prepare,” Coach Etter said. “I try to be optimistic as much as I can and try and stay in touch with the kids as much as I can. Each day I send a message, letting them know that I’m thinking about them and to try and get their workouts in like we are going to get back started and to stay positive. That’s all we can do.”

He continued, “I would hope that they wouldn’t be doing this, but you think why would we work for something if we are never going to get it, which is the wrong way to look at it. That’s why I try to remain optimistic and send messages each day. It’s easy to get negative thoughts each day that passes and you don’t hear something positive.”

The PIAA's update states the following:

“On Friday, Mar. 13, Governor Wolf issued a directive to close all schools in the Commonwealth for 10 business days starting Mar. 16. This means all school activities including sports practices, plays, musicals, mock trial, field trips, etc. The intent of this is to limit people gathering together to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus. We have been informed that some schools’ sport teams may be organizing captains’ practices or informal workouts offsite. It’s our position that this is contrary to the intent of the Governor’s order and these activities are not permitted.

As we move forward, PIAA will continue to work with the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and the Department of Education to provide updated information regarding spring sports and any possible re-start of the winter championships. This information may change on a day to day basis and some of the qualities that are fundamental lessons of interscholastic athletics are at play here: cooperation, patience, sacrifice, responsibility, respect and teamwork. We will provide more information as it becomes available to us.”

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