Coaches, Players React to Sports Cancellation
Even though most saw it coming and were not surprised by the cancellation of the high school spring sports season, it was still a "gut punch" and "a slap to the face" according to local coaches and teachers. The Minnesota State High School League announced the cancellation of the season the same day governor Walz said distance learning would continue through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which will keep school buildings closed.
In a letter tweeted out with the high school league announcement Thursday, Owatonna Activities Director Marc Achterkirch stated, "Our thoughts and hearts go out to our students and most importantly, our seniors. Words are hard to describe the immense feeling of loss that our students and families may be feeling. We encourage all our students to stay connected with their teammates, coaches, directors, teachers, and peers. Together, we are stronger and more resilient than we ever can be alone."
Owatonna football coach and biology teacher Jeff Williams said through @huskiesfootball, "Shutting down school was a gut punch today. Our best work doesn't come through computer communication."
Owatonna softball player Anna Vetsch said on Twitter, "My heart is broken and I'm lost for words. Even though my time on the field was cut short, I will cherish the memories I have made with all of my amazing teammates."
Triton senior Kendra Petersohn said, "thank you high school sports for giving my a tremendous amount of memories that will last a lifetime."
NRHEG Activities Director Dan Stork said on Saturday's AM 1390 KRFO Coaches Show, "I think most of us expected this to happen. We sat back and thought how are we going to pull off any kind of a spring season. We've got to give the high school league credit. They were optimistic throughout it, trying to come up with plans to make it work and best serve our kids, but unfortunately it didn't work out and it was canceled. When that happened it kind of slapped you upside the head, a little bit. It was like, 'Oh. Wow. They really did cancel.' Saw it coming but it was still a shock."
"The toughest part is that senior class. They are really missing out." he added.
Triton golf coach Joe Hanson said the time together will be missed most, "I think every coach will tell you the thing that they're missing isn't necessarily the competition. It's being around the kids. It's getting to hang out with them everyday, helping them grow as people as much as anything."
Owatonna's clay target team coach Mike Kingland said, "The class of 2020, their high school memories, a lot of what they had for good ones are diminished by the situation, and they're not going to have some for some of it. You just feel bad for those kids that didn't have the chance to have one last go. All you can do is wish them well in the future."
The Huskies clay target team had over 100 athletes signed up for the season, their largest group, 22 of them are seniors.
Huskies baseball coach Tate Cummins said through @OTownBaseball, "The game itself is great but not even close to as special as the relationships and memories that teammates build throughout their youth." OHS has 12 seniors on its roster.
Blooming Prairie baseball coach Matt Kittelson said through @BlossomBaseball, "...the finality is a hard pill to swallow. We feel for all of our players, especially our seniors Karson Vigeland, Luke Rennie, Jarrett Larson, Alex Baldwin, and Slava Kritzer. Thank you for all you have done for our program."