Waiting Game

On a normal Tuesday and Friday for Ricebird and Ladybird home softball and baseball games, the gates at Legacy Fields would be open as fans file their way in to cheer for their team. Now with the COVID-19 outbreak, schools have shut down and the gates are now locked. El Campo now awaits new guidance from the UIL on when they can return and if the season restarts the gates can open again. 

 

The COVID-19 outbreak across the world has caused the UIL to make another update to the Texas Public School athletics calendar.

The two-week pause the UIL announced last week has now been pushed back much further. After Governor Greg Abbott closed schools through April 4, the UIL followed with guidance that athletic contests are to remain suspended until May 4, at the earliest.

While games are a little more than a month away, the UIL did note they would allow a chance for practices to occur before that date. However, no time was given as they continue to listen to local, state and federal officials. Since the UIL has suspended play, each week they’ve announced new start dates. They are committed to trying to complete all sports this year, officials say.

“We are working diligently on contingency plans to conduct state championships in each of the activities that have been suspended,” UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said. “While the immediate future is unclear, we are committed to providing these much-desired activities to all Texas students and will prepare for all possible outcomes, including extended school closures.”

“Originally (El Campo) school facilities were shut down until March 29th and now that is not the case. The UIL is now looking at starting games on May 4th. Facilities are going to remain closed,” El Campo Atheltic Director Wayne Condra said. “We will get an update about facilities hopefully next week. We want all of our student-athletes and their families, along with all of El Campo, to stay safe.”

Abbott along with closing schools, announced gyms must shut down as well as the state tries to limit groups of people so the virus has a harder time spreading. School facilities have been closed and ISD’s have no real instruction for students who are in athletics because they are focused on core classes during this period of distance learning.

While there is a lot of unknowns still remaining in the future, Louise Athletic Director Joe Bill is in the process of setting up a Goggle Hangout in order to try and keep in touch with the school’s athletes.

There might not be places open to workout but, Bill hopes athletes are staying in shape. Incase the season does get started, working out will prevent the need for a lot of conditioning when they get back.

“Be patient,” Bill said. “Do individual workouts at home and do the best you can to stay in shape. At the same time, take this time seriously. This isn’t Spring Break for them. This virus is the real deal. But I encourage them to continue to do workouts and follow the guidance the state put out.”

For baseball and softball specifically, when they get back in action, two rounds of district play likely won’t happen. In order to finish the district season quickly, they could just go through district one-time, with as many as three games a week to determine who makes the playoffs. Golf, tennis and track could go straight to the district meet.

Senior Philip Hundl and junior Jackie Nichols both made the state track meet last year. While they and other athletes in other sports will likely have a truncated season, state is still something that isn’t out of the question for them or any other El Campo, Louise or Wharton County sport, yet.

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