Area athletic directors are hoping to learn more about the prospects of the high school spring sports season Thursday.

Tuesday’s recommendation from the Maine Department of Education and Gov. Janet Mills that schools plan on continuing remote and distance learning for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic cast more doubt on the already tenuous spring scholastic sports schedule. Since the Maine Principals’ Association’s decided last month to postpone the start of preseason practices, athletic directors and conferences have been planning on an April 27 start.

Lewiston’s Sam Payne pivots with the ball leaving Edward Little’s Cameron Sturgis on the ground during a boys lacrosse game in Auburn last May. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The MPA’s Interscholastic Management Committee will be holding a virtual meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the status of spring sports, including the possibility of cancellation, according to executive director Mike Burnham. The MPA will issue a news release following the meeting, Burnham said.

Athletic directors said Wednesday they remained in a holding pattern and are expecting the committee to discuss options for the spring season. Some even remain hopeful that a cancellation isn’t imminent.

“Right now, we’re where we’ve been (since the postponement to April 27) — wait and see,” Monmouth Academy athletic director Wade Morrill said.

Athletic directors from the Mountain Valley Conference have met to plan for an April 27 start, and ADs from around the state have had formal and informal discussions about what a spring season might look like if there is one, as well as the ramifications of no season.

“We’re all hopeful, but we’re also very realistic,” Morrill said.

Lewiston athletic director Jason Fuller admitted “it doesn’t look good” in light of the Department of Education’s recommendation, but added, “I think everyone is optimistic and hopeful things will work out.”

All spring teams were originally schedule to begin practicing on March 30, with countable games, meets and matches scheduled to begin April 16. State championships in baseball, softball and lacrosse would have ended the season on June 20.

On March 13, the Interscholastic Management Committee and the MPA’s Board of Directors decided to move the start date to April 27, the first day schools were set to come back from April vacation break.

MPA officials said at the time that they were seeking guidance from the Maine DOE and the Centers for Disease Control for guidance on future decisions regarding the spring season, but have not taken any action other than to loosen restrictions on contact between coaches and athletes.

Several states — including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming — have already canceled high school spring seasons.

Maine athletic directors have discussed a wide range of options for a spring season, including abbreviated regular seasons, seasons without tournaments and postseason meets, and extending the season later into the summer.

Morrill said he hopes the MPA will continue to explore those and other options and hold off on making a decision to cancel the spring season on Thursday. He added the decision of whether to continue or cancel spring athletic programs and open or close school athletic facilities still rests with individual school boards.

“I’m hoping they continue with a wait-and-see strategy, but at some point a decision will have to be made,” he said.

Unless and until that decision is to cancel, Fuller said he is advising coaches and athletes to continue to prepare for a season.

“The biggest thing for our coaches is to stay patient, stay relaxed and stay in contact with our kids,” he said.

“For our kids, regardless of whether there is a season or not, this is a tough lesson to learn,” he added. “But I think you’ve got to find the positive in this and, whatever it is, find a way to make it better.”


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