By Joshua Huff, sports editor
MONTGOMERY — AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese expressed sadness and disappointment on Friday following Gov. Kay Ivey’s order that all school systems throughout the state need to adopt a plan to wrap the academic year through virtual means.
The end of on-campus classes for the rest of the year also means that the high school spring sports season has come to an abrupt conclusion.
“This decision has not been made lightly,” Ivey said on Thursday. “It’s been made with a tremendous amount of concern and discussion. We must be serious about eliminating the spread of this virus. The public health orders are not suggestions. They have been put in place to save your life.”
Savarese released a statement early Friday morning stating his disheartenment towards the announcement that now ends the high school careers of seniors and impacts coaches, fans, players, officials and communities.
Savarese’s full statement:
“Like thousands of others, I am deeply saddened and disappointed that our schools have closed, and spring sports will not have an opportunity to finish their seasons. Even more so, I am disheartened for all student-athletes, contest officials, their coaches, families, student bodies, fans, communities, and especially our seniors. We are facing an unprecedented health crisis, but I am prayerful that the steps we are taking now within our schools and across our nation will enable all those affected to return to a sense of normalcy sooner than later.
“I’m extremely grateful to all our educators who will utilize tele-communications and other ingenious methods to continue to educate our students as well as keep our student-athletes conditioned. Moreover, I’m grateful to all those within our medical communities who are serving those in need. In particular, now more than ever, I am thankful for the leadership of the AHSAA medical advisory board and Central Board of Control.
“Lastly, all the steps we are taking now will be for naught if we each fail to do our part, and our responsibility is to follow the recommendations of our health care professionals. My prayer is that we will all take seriously the Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines so our families can once again return to work, visit loved ones in the hospital and nursing homes, celebrate birthdays, weddings, and births of children, visit and hold our grandchildren, shop, travel and just enjoy the simple things of everyday life we often take for granted. Until those guidelines are lifted, we must heed these cautions thus not allowing this health issue to affect future school years.”
The announcement ending the spring high sports season was made by Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey during a statewide press conference on Thursday afternoon. Other activities such as proms and graduations could still be held later in the summer.
“I’m truly sorry, and I know Gov. Ivey and Dr. Harris are sorry that students are losing so many of the fun activities of their senior year that they really count on, but we have to do what is the most important and pressing thing and that is protecting the health and safety of our community,” Mackey said.