High school sports suspended, Sandpoint coaches react

by Dylan Greene
Sports Editor | March 17, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The Idaho High School Activities Association announced Monday morning that all sanctioned high school sports and activities from Tuesday until Sunday, April 5 were suspended in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

IHSAA also said the state cheer/dance championships were canceled and would not be rescheduled.

It was a move that seemed inevitable given the amount of schools in southern Idaho that began suspending school and high school sports over the weekend.

“I’m sad for the kids that they can’t get out and be with their team,” Sandpoint Athletic Director Kris Knowles said, “and coaches can’t do what they do and I’m disappointed but I completely understand it. We kind of anticipated something we just didn’t know what it would be.”

Knowles said the IHSAA made the move to ensure all the high school teams in the state were on an even playing field because there isn’t agreement among all of the Idaho school districts in terms of when and how long school will be suspended.

“We’re working under the assumption we’ll be able to get back after April 5,” Knowles said, “and kind of salvage the season after that but at the end of the day, we still don’t really know how it will play out beyond that.”

Knowles is already looking at each team’s schedule after they return from Spring Break and seeing where he can fit in rescheduled games.

Given the impact of the suspension on Sandpoint, I talked to every head coach of the Bulldogs five spring sports to get their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say (be careful your eyes might start watering):

Baseball head coach Chase Tigert

Question: What was your initial reaction when you heard the season was suspended?

Answer: “It was something I was expecting. Last week I saw that the Coeur d’Alene School District was doing some things and the Moscow School District was doing some things and when you look at that, and you see what’s happening across the country and your local schools are closing down, and those are people you play, you start putting two and two together and just start thinking that it’s probably just a matter of time ... it was kind of just this trickling effect and I was kind of surprised on Friday that I didn’t have that letter already to be honest, so when it came this morning I saw it coming.”

Q: What are you going to tell the players?

A: “The biggest thing we’re going to go over is trying to focus on the positives. With everything that’s going on, the IHSAA could’ve said this season is canceled but they didn’t. It’s three weeks and I went through our past seasons — just the last three that I’ve been here — and those years up until that April 5 date, we’ve only played two games typically and that’s all been due to weather so just trying to get the kids to understand that this isn’t much different from if we had this crazy weather we’ve had the last three years.”

Q: How disappointing is this for the kids?

A: “I’m not playing, I’m just coaching and I’m incredibly disappointed. This is something they’ve been looking forward to since the end of last year. The kids in this program they love baseball, this is what they choose to do ... I can only imagine how challenging this is for them. I know when our games got canceled on Saturday the kids were just beside themselves because they were so excited.”

Track head coach Matt Brass

Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard the season was suspended?

A: “Expected with what has been going on all around us ... I was glad to see we have a time on it and then can reassess so the kids may still have a chance to have some competitions toward the end of the year but so much of it is up in the air and out of our hands, and the most important thing is the kids are safe and families are safe and the community is and that’s got to be the focus right now, and then if everything works out well, which we all hope it does, then we’ll be ready to get back out on the track.”

Q: How are you going to make sure the kids are prepared if the season resumes?

A: “Luckily, we’re not a winter sport so the kids can be outside ... we have a lot of good parks, we have trails and places where people can go and be alone and if it means something to them and its something they want to prep and practice for, then they’ll find a way to get it done and do it safely.”

Q: What are you going to tell the seniors?

A: “We appreciate all the work they’ve put in over the years and this is just an unfortunate set of events that no one has had to deal with in a century on this magnitude and just tell them to keep their eye on it just in case something comes up where they’re allowed to compete again this year before they graduate.”

Softball head coach Elizabeth Hawkins-Williams

Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard the season was suspended?

A: “I felt sick and I’m really sad. Our players work really hard and they raised all that money to go to Boise and we can’t get that money back. With the pro sports they have next year, they always have next year and the NCAA granted another year of eligibility to the spring athletes, our seniors don’t get that, this is it. They worked really hard last year to raise all that money to be able to do really special things and they’ve worked really, really hard to rebuild from last year to get to a point to be competitive and get back to state this year and they truly have done that, and to hear this news is devastating for them.”

Q: How did the players react when you told them?

A: “A lot of disappointment, a lot of anger and I asked them if they wanted to practice today and they did. They wanted to be here, they want to have one last hurrah, they want to spend all day here if they can and I told them that we can practice as long as you want and then they want to do something together tonight. The camaraderie on this team, they don’t want to be apart, they want to be together every day and so that part is hard.”

Tennis head coach Kent Anderson

Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard the season was suspended?

A: “I saw it coming but it’s really sad for the seniors and just like every year, my seniors are like family so you see the potential of them maybe not fulfilling their senior year the way you expect so that’s really depressing.”

Q: Do you expect your team to drop off due to the suspension and lack of practice time?

A: “The kids on this team are pretty dedicated so I’m sure they’ll be hitting. I don’t expect a big drop in what they’re doing, in fact, I expect them to be better once we do get on the court and I think we will get back, but at the same time I won’t be surprised if we don’t.”

Golf head coach Michael Deprez

Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard the season was suspended?

A: “We certainly understand the health issues that are at play but the second emotion that follows that is disappointment. The kids work very hard and their swings are looking good, they’re crushing it and its a game of momentum a little bit there and building up confidence over time and I think we were turning in the right direction ... I was really kind of getting excited and now we just got to take a deep breath.”

Q: How disappointing is this for the athletes?

A: “The seniors are disappointed but part of my over arching concern is really for the juniors and seniors because for the juniors this is the stuff that leads into summer play and these juniors might be able to post good scores once we get out there and practice a little bit more, and they would hopefully be able to start getting some accolades if we were lucky enough to qualify for state and do something significant at state, then that maybe gets some attention of some people out there. So for juniors it’s kind of a lost opportunity.”