With the announcement that local campuses will be physically closed through the end of the school year comes the disappointment in letting those wearing South Pasadena High uniforms, especially seniors, know the book has been closed on the 2020 spring season.
News that campaigns are over in softball, baseball, swimming, boys’ volleyball, tennis, golf, and track and field has caused sadness and sorrow for hundreds of Tiger athletes.
SPHS Athletic Director Anthony Chan is among those disheartened that spring sports seasons have come to an end as the coronavirus continues to take aim on the world.
“At this point, many of us know people who have been affected by this pandemic,” explained Chan, who has been reaching out and consoling SPHS families, recognizing the discouragement athletes feel in not being able to compete in their respective sport. “We need to all do our part and stay home to allow our healthcare workers to handle the influx of Covid-19 patients.”
The end was announced last month when the CIF governing board made the decision to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season on account of the virus. It came in the midst of the state’s “Safer at Home” mandate, social distancing practices and ban on large group gatherings.
As the coronavirus spread around the globe, it became clear the impact was felt at the professional, collegiate and high school level. And, in its path were sports at South Pasadena High. “Personally, it was heart breaking to share the news on multiple occasions of postponements to cancellation,” said Chan. “We went from the possibility of maybe returning to not returning at all. Having seen the athletes, coaches, families, boosters, and others work so hard but have their season cut short was difficult news to break.”
The Tigers’ first-year athletic director believes it was a good decision to halt play, yet knowing the news would be devastating for hundreds of teens learning their season had been cut short. “If we are asked to close schools down for the remainder of the year to avoid gatherings, yet try to have athletes congregate for practice, it would be hypocritical,” said Chan. “This pandemic is above any of us and doesn’t discriminate who gets infected. At this point, many of us know people who have been affected. We need to all do our part and stay home to allow our healthcare workers to handle the influx of Covid-19 patients.”
CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti issued a statement declaring competitions must be stopped. “We understand this is disappointing for everyone involved in education-based athletics and empathize with our student-athletes and all who are impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak,” he wrote. “As always, our top priority is everyone’s ongoing health and safety during this challenging time, and we all look forward to the day when education-based athletics resumes.”
Athletic directors like Chan are now wondering how summer and fall might look like as schools anticipate formal practices in face of the virus. “We are working with coaches on booking non-league matches and possible tournaments,” he said. “Some of us are thinking about fundraising as having a season cut short before all fundraising efforts are complete puts us in a hole for the next year.”
Chan feels for South Pasadena High athletes who filled roster spots, seeing their seasons come to a crashing conclusion, recognizing seniors will no longer be given another opportunity to showcase their talents at the high school level.
“I know how much work they have put into the spring season,” he said. “I am proud of their efforts and accomplishments this season. For the seniors, I know it’s been hard not just for athletics but for many of the things you look forward to at the end of this year and season. I know it’s not how any of us thought this season would go, but we are all still extremely proud of your contributions to Tiger Athletics.”
Through Zoom calls, Chan has expressed his disappointment of play ending with South Pasadena High coaches and parents of athletes, noting: “We kept hoping for things to clear up and find a way to finish out the spring season, but we were unable to. I’ve been staying home as much as possible with the exception of groceries and sometimes going out for some fresh air or a car ride.”
Wearing masks, carrying Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer, washing hands “religiously” and avoiding going outside his home has become the new normal for Chan, who never in his wildest dreams believe something as devastating as the coronavirus would come along and put athletics at the school in a free fall. “I don’t know the last time that we’ve had entire season canceled,” said Chan. “I think just hearing the news that March Madness has cancelled for the first time since 1938 really shows the severity of Covid-19. I know when I started worrying more at the end of February, I was trying to buy back-up hand soap and hand sanitizers to provide our teams thinking we would be able to contain any infections in the U.S., but we could be proactive about disinfecting and preventative measures. I think we all have learned a lot from this, as well as gained a greater appreciation for the little things like spending time with your family.”
It’s mindboggling to so many, including Chan, that life has been subject to tremendous change, turned upside down and taken such a strange turn. “Never did I think we would get here,” he said.
Chan claims the crisis is “a worldwide generational moment” for everyone, knowing that millions have endured a horrendous period in history. He is moved by a message from Nike, the shoe and clothing maker, encouraging quarantining and social distancing as the best remedy of stemming the spread of the virus.
“If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world,” NIKE posted on social media along with its iconic swoosh.