PANAMA CITY BEACH/MARIANNA, FL (WJHG/WECP) High School student-athletes in the spring sports saw the ban on their organized, team practices and games extended Tuesday.
The Florida High School Athletic Association, the body that governs high school ball across Florida, putting out a release via its website stating this around midday Tuesday.
"Given the directive of President Trump to maintain following CDC guidelines through April 30, 2020, combined with Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran's mandate for schools in Florida to remain closed through May 3, 2020, the FHSAA will continue to follow suit with all scheduled FHSAA meetings, conferences, and athletic events postponed. Pending schools are back in session and afforded the opportunity to resume activities after May 3rd, by Federal, State and Local authorities, the FHSAA will follow the advice and guidance available to us at that time regarding the continuance of all FHSAA spring sports. In light of the current situation, the FHSAA staff is actively working on creative solutions for the continuance of spring sports, which could extend through June 30th. The FHSAA does understand the hardships caused by COVID-19 and the inability to play spring sports. If we are not able to continue spring sports, the FHSAA is working diligently to create a plan regarding additional eligibility for students who have not been able to participate in spring sports."
So best case scenario now, high school sports start back up May 4th, though that doesn't mean the games would start right away!
"Because we've got to get out and throw, and get out and hit again." Arnold softball coach Rick Green says. "Even though they're soft-tossing or hitting off tees, it's not like facing real pitching. And so you have to get that back down to be competitive. You listen, I'm talking about my seniors, I hate it for ever senior in this county. And every senior in this state. I mean this is their time to shine. This is about them, most of them are the captains of their teams and their seasons have been cut in half, at least."
Still, the FHSAA pushing things back, and not canceling the spring sports seasons altogether, does provide some glimmer of hope. Marianna head baseball coach Bobby Hughes clinging to that Tuesday.
"That was, I'm glad we got to see that, I just read it awhile ago." coach Hughes told me. "That's a great opportunity for these kids that at least have the opportunity to finish the season. You know we thought that we would not get to finish the season, so this gives them a glimpse, you know, maybe we've got a chance to finish the season, when they said to the end of June! So I'm just excited for those seniors, it what I'm excited for."
The Marianna coach went on to say the sliver of hope that remains is better than the alternative right now. "I'm excited because everything you've heard has been negative and we need something positive for these kids, or something like this to happen. You know I hate all this has come up and everything's happened like this. But hopefully you know, I think maybe by June we might have a chance. We might have a chance to finish our season. I can coach all the way into July if I need to. Whatever it takes to get these kids somewhat of a full season and the opportunity to compete for something. And not just end on a sour note whatever that takes that's what I'll do as a coach."
Coach Hughes says he is already working on a plan to field a summer team that would allow all his players to play together beyond whatever might be left of this high school season, be it in Dixie Youth or other leagues.
Coach Hughes with five seniors, Ty Highsmith, Caleb Torbett, Ben Wiggins, Blayne Hewett and Wilton Pittman.