In the second week of March, the Wheat Ridge High boys’ baseball team learned that the team’s spring break trip, a tournament in Phoenix, had been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A …
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In the second week of March, the Wheat Ridge High boys’ baseball team learned that the team’s spring break trip, a tournament in Phoenix, had been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A couple of days later, on March 12, the team learned its entire season would be suspended through at least mid-April, with the possibility of not resuming at all this year.
But when coach Adam Miller asked the team if they would still like to go through with their March 12 practice, despite the fact that another game wouldn’t roll around for weeks, all of the team members said yes.
“We practiced for about two and a half hours. They just love being out there,” Miller said. “Their fingers are crossed they can get a chance to keep playing.”
Wheat Ridge High was just one Jeffco school that saw its 2020 spring break plans canceled, with a number of other sports teams getting the news that favorite traditions and chances for travel would be unable to go forward this year.
Private Christian school Faith Christian in Arvada was also affected, with the baseball team’s trip to Arizona canceled, along with mission trips to Ecuador and China, according to Assistant Athletic Director Nathan Mauldin.
For the teams, the trips were not only a way for teams to play additional teams and get in some training, but also an opportunity to introduce the team to new experiences.
“We have some kids who haven’t ever really traveled in their lives, so it’s a good opportunity for them,” said Mike Thumim, who coaches boys’ lacrosse at Golden High School. The team had scheduled a spring break trip to New Orleans to play three games and enjoy other activities, like paintball matches and a visit to the National World War II Museum.
“It’s bonding for the team,” Thumim said.
The cancellation has been hard on all teammates and particularly difficult for seniors, coaches said.
“The saddest part was seeing their faces. It was their last trip; they won’t get to ever do this again,” said Dan Porreco, who coaches boys’ baseball at D’Evelyn High School. “It’s unfortunate, but our whole country’s in a crisis right now. We have to take care of everybody.”
Upon learning games would be canceled, some schools worked to come up with alternatives. Miller, for example, was able to coordinate for the team to play games against the four other Jeffco schools over spring break, to make up for the four teams the group would have squared off against in Phoenix.
The Ralston Valley High girls’ soccer team, which didn’t have a trip planned over the break but has had games canceled throughout the month, had organized to hold extra, senior-led practices in the meantime.
However, as the public health crisis has intensified and government orders have placed restrictions on large gatherings, even schools’ backup plans have been undone.
“Getting to know each other at the beginning of the season is really important to lay down the basics with communication, so it’s definitely a setback,” said Kenna Livingston, a Ralston Valley senior on the varsity soccer team.
For the time being, the athletes are staying in touch through a group chat and completing regular workouts to stay in shape, she said.
“You have to keep the community healthy,” Livingston said. “It’s a little hard, but we’re just trying to stay positive.”
Now, teams across Jeffco are holding out hope that, despite some trips or games being canceled, their seasons will be able to resume in mid-April.
“I’m always optimistic, and I’m going to keep that belief because I know the girls have that belief,” said Kamee Morwood, Ralston Valley girls’ soccer coach. “I have a girl coming back from an ACL injury who worked so hard, and seniors who were so looking forward to leading this team. We will celebrate them and get back on that field.”
Morwood’s fellow Jeffco coaches likewise said their teams aren’t ready to give up hope.
“Last year was our first state championship in lacrosse, and we really believe this year, we have a chance to go back-to-back,” Thumim said. “This is giving everyone a greater appreciation for the things they have, and that’s going to make it that much more fun when we get back together.”
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