Editor’s Note: Following the closure of in-person learning at Grand Rapids Community College, staff writer Joshua Carlson returned home to Charlevoix. He reached out to his contacts in Northern Michigan and reported the impacts of MHSAA’s postponement for that region.
By Joshua Carlson
High school athletes are feeling effects from the coronavirus as the Michigan High school Athletic Association (MHSAA) has announced the postponement of all athletics in Michigan effective immediately.
The statement released from MHSAA on March 13 read,
“The Michigan High School Athletic Association has directed all member schools to suspend activities in all sports for all seasons – effective Monday, March 16 through at least Sunday, April 5 – to fall in line with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order that all schools close for the next three weeks to deter the spread of COVID-19.
All athletic activities to be halted include practices, scrimmages, and competitions/games, as well as strength training, conditioning, and any other organized sessions and activities in all MHSAA in-season and out-of-season sports.
The suspension of activities applies to sports for all three MHSAA seasons as spring sports practices have begun, Winter tournaments were suspended Thursday and fall sports coaches are working with limited numbers of athletes during the offseason.”
This leaves athletes all over the state wondering what’s going to happen next. Basketball season was just getting into playoffs with teams from the men’s side already making it to district finals, while the women’s teams were starting regional competition. Seniors especially are affected as precautions to stave off the coronavirus have caused them to possibly end their senior season without a chance to make one final run in the playoffs.
Charlevoix native Elise Stuck, a 6-foot-1, three-time first team all-state recipient and future member of the University of Michigan Women’s Basketball team, is in her senior year and had just returned to play due to an ACL injury suffered before the season. Her senior year as of right now is cut short, waiting to play in the regional final game to advance to the next round.
“It’s tough,” Stuck said. “Even being a senior who is playing in college next year. For too many of my teammates, this is the final opportunity for them to play basketball. There would have been much more closure if the state would have concluded girls’ regional finals and boys district finals, and then called it quits.”
Coaches are trying to remain calm and control what they can. The father of Elise Stuck (along with two other varsity basketball athletes for the men’s) and Charlevoix High School men’s basketball coach Matt Stuck is trying to keep his team ready if the time comes.
“Currently, it is still stated as a postponement and not a cancelation. Other states have canceled but Michigan has not, and currently, there are other states still playing out their tournaments.
Stuck continues, “We will have to see what happens with the virus over the next two to three weeks. If things settle down, we just have to hope that the MHSAA does the right thing by resuming, and not just do the “easy” thing and cancel.”
When asked if coaches have received any further information on the status of the tournament Stuck stated, “We as coaches have not received any additional information regarding the tournament. But many coaches are emailing and calling MHSAA to resume after the schools are back in session.”
Boyne City High School men’s head coach Nick Redman emailed comments to The Collegiate about his team’s experience,
“We met with the team Thursday before practice and it was tough!” Redman stated. “Obviously, everyone (was) devastated especially the seniors. We talked about hopefully MHSAA makes it right and gives them a chance to finish out (the) season especially since it cut that district week short one day before (the) championship game.”
Redman continued, “We should have finished last week crowned regional girls and district boys then they could have gotten together over a weekend meeting about what was right moving forward. All the kids, coaches, families, and communities put a lot into a season. No one wants to see it cut short without kids having the opportunity to decide the outcome of the game.”
“Win or lose no one wants to go (the) rest of life wondering what might have happened. Plus, there is a lot of pride/tradition involved as well. We were playing for our sixth straight district championship and 10th trip in 11 years going for our eighth championship in 11 years. Everyone put a lot of blood, sweat, and years into that. Having that opportunity means a lot to everyone!”
With no more info given by the MHSAA, Redman reiterated Stuck’s comments and suggested what should happen if the start of school comes soon.
“Start practice April 6, play district championship on April 10,” Redman said. “If time was a major factor (we) could play district on (the) 9th and play both regional games on Sat. 11th similar to an AAU event. I believe coaches, players, and parents would be happy to just play no matter what the circumstances were -when and where- as long as they got that opportunity.”
Updates on the status of the tournament can be found on the MHSAA website. As of now athletes and coaches can only sit and wait for what the future of the season holds.