We are treading into difficult and unprecedented times. The coronavirus has presented all of us with a unique set of challenges as we try to make sense of the intrusive impact the virus has had in all of our lives. The uncertainty of where we are headed and how long the virus will continue to disrupt our daily routines only adds to the frustration and anxiety we feel.
While the health of all our citizens remains the top priority, I can’t help but feel a special compassion for all of those athletes and coaches, especially at the high school level, who have had the rug pulled out from under them just as they were approaching goals that many have dreamed of their entire lives.
The OHSAA decision to postpone indefinitely all postseason tournaments came just as wrestling and girls basketball were beginning their state tournaments and boys basketball was at the regional level of competition, one step from state. Local and area teams were among those impacted by the decision.
Boys teams from Lima Senior, Shawnee, Columbus Grove, Ottawa-Glandorf and Parkway all had chances to win regional titles and advance to Columbus to compete for a state championship. Had the area advanced teams in all four divisions it would have been an amazing achievement.
On the girls’ side, Minster, Anna and Fort Loramie were only hours away from stepping on high school basketball’s biggest stage when the decision was announced.
My heart goes out to all of those impacted by the decision to suspend the tournaments. That includes the communities that came out in great numbers to support student-athletes. One of the rewarding dynamics of a school’s march to Columbus is the positive impact it has on the school’s community of students, parents and fans.
I feel a special empathy for those schools that were making a rare run to Columbus. It’s been 20 years since Shawnee made an appearance at state and the Indians were the biggest local story in basketball this season, inspiring a massive following.
Parkway was making its first appearance ever in a regional tournament and, after a win Tuesday night was just one win from state. Watching Doug Hughes and his team passionately celebrate their magical wins with their fans, were some of the most endearing moments in this year’s postseason tournament.
Lima Senior’s head coach Quincey Simpson faced two disappointments when his Spartans team was shut down on the doorstep of a trip to Columbus and his son Xavier’s decorated Michigan college basketball career abruptly came to a close.
Jerry Snodgrass, executive director of the OHSAA, did leave the door open to resume the tournament at a later date, but no one can accurately predict when the virus will begin to decline and the public’s safety is no longer considered to be at risk.
It was a difficult call to make and the pressure on Snodgrass to navigate between health concerns and public pressure to quickly restart the tournaments will be enormous. For my part, I trust Snodgrass to weigh the risk and make the right decision based on accurate information. That kind of information will not be found on social media where comments plunge the argument into a tiring, political divide.
Teams that make deep tournament runs are loaded with athletes who love to compete and test themselves against other great teams and athletes. Believe me, these players and coaches would play anywhere, anytime, under any conditions, just for the opportunity to continue their quest for a state title.
I have vivid memories of the reaction my players felt after winning regional titles and a state championship. The pride they felt following those accomplishments, the confidence that it inspired in them and the happiness etched on their faces were moments I will never forget. For many it was one of the happiest days of their lives. It saddens me that those are moments our young athletes may not get the chance to experience.
Let’s hope and pray all these athletes get the opportunity to resume their tournament at some time in the near future.
As we head into a period of uncertainty let’s also remember that resiliency is one of the great rewards that athletic competition can teach all of us. Regardless of how this story unfolds, our athletes and our communities will meet and conquer any challenge or setback we face.
Reach Bob Seggerson at firstname.lastname@example.org