No games, no practice: Area teams put seasons on hold with UIL suspension

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Everything has been put on hold in the world of high school sports due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The University Interscholastic League announced on March 13 that all UIL-sanctioned competition has been suspended until March 29. That suspension on Monday was extended to include all practices, workouts and rehearsals.

Darrell Granger, Memorial’s track and field head coach, said this means the very first Titan Relays, which were scheduled for this coming Friday on his campus, will be cancelled, as will the C.L. Hanna Gator Relays at Dickinson High School on March 26.

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“It’s disappointing because the kids were looking forward to that,” Granger said. “I know the community was looking forward to coming out and supporting the kids, because we haven’t had anything in a while. You have to deal with what you’re dealing with, and that’s the same for everybody.”

The deadline for district certification is April 11, followed by area certification on April 18. Granger said it’s unlikely there will be time to make up the meet in the time remaining after the resumption of competition, though right now he and many other coaches are simply waiting for more updates and instructions from the UIL.

“I’m not going to do anything this week,” he said. “I’m just going to keep it open and see how things go this week and go from there.”

Granger says Memorial will definitely try again next year.

Port Neches-Groves softball coach Taylor Harvill said the suspension of games and practices is the extent of the information available to coaches as of Monday. In the meantime, Harvill hopes her girls take the initiative and continue working out on their own.

“I told them there are plenty of drills they can do at home to keep them going and not completely doing nothing at all,” she said. “Hopefully they’re doing that.”

Until then, the Indians are waiting for more information from the UIL.

“That’s the plan as of now,” she said. “If we don’t hear anything else, and if we don’t push it back anymore, that’s the plan as of now.”

Nederland’s Keith Barrow said his boys soccer players have indeed been getting touches on the soccer ball on their own.

“Some of the kids met up at the school, kicked the ball around a little bit and got some cardio,” he said. “I’m not allowed to be out there with them, and I’m not going to require them to do anything. Plus I’m sure the kids are going stir-crazy after spring break having another week off. It’s time to get back to the grind. It’s unfortunate, but it’s understandable.”

Barrow said the UIL has a few options when it comes to completing the soccer seasons when competition resumes.

“They could be looking at some way of altering the playoffs by making it some kind of regional tournament,” he said. “They’d eliminate four teams quicker over a weekend instead of having a second or third round tournament. Or they could do a regional tournament where instead of having eight teams you could have 16 teams but end it over several days. I haven’t heard anything about that.”

Jessie Riojas, Memorial baseball coach, said circumstances don’t look good for his season.

“I’d be really shocked if we’re able to pick the season back up in the next couple of weeks, but the way things are going, it doesn’t look good,” Riojas said. “From what I’ve been told, if the state’s going to shut down schools for the remainder of the year, then there’s no more baseball. And I hate that, I really do, especially for those seniors.”

A resident of Bridge City, Riojas feels bad for all Southeast Texas players, especially since the Cardinals have a 15-0-1 record so far and were recently ranked the No. 1 team in the Diamond Pro/THSB 4A Top 25 on Monday.

The situation won’t keep him from the field.

“I love being at the field,” he said. “I was there yesterday. “I have a 12-year-old, and we were out there hitting. I’m not going to stop doing that until they barricade every street and neighborhood and you can’t leave your house. I’m hoping and praying that we can get back on the field and that things can get better here and throughout the country.”