The decision to cancel the varsity football game against Liberty North High School on Friday, Sept. 17, was met with disappointment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not ended, and its impact remains on various levels. One of the groups that has suffered the consequences of the pandemic was the football team.
Due to an increase in COVID cases on the team, school administration made the decision to cancel the game and preceding practices. The school’s COVID-19 contact tracer Tammy Slauson shared the reasoning behind this call.
“When we originally canceled the practice, it was mostly out of caution,” Slauson said. “Canceling the game was done out of necessity. We didn’t want to go over and play and expose five to 10 kids or more.”
Slauson said it was not an easy decision, and the decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
“We had four positive cases, two probable cases and 14 other players were named as exposed,” Slauson said.
Questions of how the decisions would be made going forward have arisen, and Slauson provided insight.
“We contact the health department and tell them about the cases and listen to their recommendations. We look at that information to make the decisions,” Slauson said.
While the decisions are made by analyzing statistics, one thing that cannot be accounted for as often is the emotional toll these cancellations have on the players and fans.
The coaches were responsible for breaking the news of game cancellations to the players.
“He had brought us all together at three o’clock after school for a meeting and told us,” senior varsity football captain Emonta Hicks said. “Everybody was upset. Mad. Everybody wanted to play that game.”
Another senior varsity football captain Zach Sherwood shared his perspective on how his teammates felt after the announcements.
“I know a lot of other guys on the team are down and disappointed that we can’t play,” Sherwood said. “But a lot of us are starting to move to the mind of this is just a small bump in the road. We have to look further than the week.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken many things from students, and many upperclassmen have had to cope with feeling like they are missing out on an important time in their life because of it. Both Hicks and Sherwood expressed disappointment that COVID has continued to impact their senior season of football.
“It’s heartbreaking. As seniors, we need our senior year,” Hicks said.
Sherwood shared similar emotions.
“I know for me it sucks not being able to play the game my senior season,” Sherwood said.
While statistics have to be the primary consideration for the safety of students, the administration said, they sympathized with the disappointment the players experienced.
“Unfortunately we are in the middle of a pandemic,” principal Larry Smith, Ed.D., said. “Some of these cancellations are out of our control. Stay positive; stay encouraged. We are excited to be back next week. We still will have a great season ahead.”
Further, Smith wanted to remind students that their school spirit is strong, even amongst challenges or setbacks the pandemic may bring.
“The way I have seen our Falcons support each other has been wonderful to see. What will help us get through this is to continue to support each other and pick each other up,” Smith said.
The next game will be held Friday, Sept. 24, at the District Activities Center. The Homecoming game against North Kansas City High School will begin at 7 p.m.