St. John’s Catholic Prep’s athletic leagues, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association for boys and the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland for girls, officially canceled the 2020 spring sports season on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But as it turned out, SJCP had already done that very thing one day earlier.
Both moves were prompted by Friday’s announcement that all Maryland schools had to remain closed through May 15, meaning students couldn’t return to school until May 18 at the earliest.
By that date, St. John’s spring teams couldn’t have an abbreviated season, which the school planned to do before the shutdown was extended.
“Yesterday we made the call,” SJCP athletic director Pete Strickland said on Tuesday, adding that three other schools in the Vikings’ league did the same thing before the MIAA and IAAM announced its decision.
If students could’ve returned to school later this month, Strickland said Vikings teams could’ve held some sort of minicamps before competing against nearby private schools, such as Washington County’s St. Maria Goretti.
“Local schools that would have some autonomy with scheduling,” he said.
Teams could’ve competed in four to eight events. They could’ve held Senior Nights. But with a May 18 return date, Strickland said trying to cobble together a schedule for teams became unrealistic.
The MPSSAA, the governing body for Maryland public high school sports, has yet to announce its plans. The public school spring season was put on hold before it began, and MPSSAA state basketball semifinals games, including ones for the Frederick and Middletown girls and Oakdale boys, have been postponed since mid-March.
In an article on miaasports.net, IAAM executive director Sue Thompson said it was hard to make the formal call to end the spring season. Her MIAA counterpart, Lee Dove, expressed that sentiment to miaasports.net.
“We held out hope for as long as we could,” said Dove, referring to the possibility of having some sort of spring season. “But the continued closure of all schools has made achievement of this goal impossible.”
It’s unclear if Maryland students will get to return to schools this spring.
“If we do come back, depending on the safety, everything’s depending on that ... we might have an athletics day, intersquad scrimmages,” Strickland said.
Unlike public schools, St. John’s spring season wasn’t completely wiped out. The Vikings’ girls lacrosse team got to play one game, losing 9-8 to Annapolis Area Christian School on March 12.
Strickland said he ached for seniors who won’t get to play their final high school season.
“We all remember ‘em for better or for worse because there’s only one,” he said of senior seasons. “And most of the athletes do remember them fondly because of the relationships they’ve had over the three or four years.”
He said seniors put their stamp on teams.
“Even if it’s the same people another year later, it’s always a different product,” Strickland said. “I was interested to see the fingerprints that these seniors were going to put on our spring teams.”
Also, St. John’s had three first-year coaches this spring — Kara Phoubandith (girls lacrosse), Matt Williams (boys lacrosse) and Wade Newman (baseball).
“I was so excited about seeing their first version,” Strickland said. “There was such excitement for our spring sports for all the normal reasons, but for those reasons as well.”