Bartlett Yancey softball coach Kelly McVay had these words for her team before it faced Western Guilford on the road last week:
“I told them to play like there's no tomorrow,” she said.
Hours before, the NCHSAA, which governs high schools sports in North Carolina, had announced that it was suspending all athletics activities from midnight last Friday through April 6. The move was a precaution, it said, against the fast spreading coronavirus pandemic.
“We're not guaranteed another game,” McVay said as she recalled her pep talk. “Sort of makes you appreciate it more. Nothing's guaranteed.”
Her team went on to defeat the Hornets (1-5) 9-7 in what turned out to be their last game, at least for a while. They had been scheduled to play at Reidsville (0-3, 0-1) last Friday, but that game was called off because of a scheduling conflict.
The NCHSAA said in a statement on its website that it's board of directors would be “reassessing the situation regularly over the next few weeks.”
The suspension includes athletics contests as well as workouts, skill development and practices, the statement says.
Last Friday, Bucs players, who had won two games since a season opening loss, were grappling with the season's sudden halt.
“It's pretty upsetting,” said Lizzie Proctor, a sophomore. “You never know when you're last game is. Play your hardest.”
Said Rylie Webster, a junior: “Definitely not how I wanted my junior year to end.”
The season could resume after April 6, or later in the season. But there are no guarantee that there will be any more games.
“It would be careless to speculate on that,” said NCHSAA assistant commissioner James Alverson. He said that any decision on future contests would come from the association's board of directors.
In the meantime, most coaches seem to be encouraging players to gather informally for practices and workouts so they can be ready if play does resume. Those informal workouts can't include coaches, several coaches pointed out.
“We'll probably have a few days where we try to get out and hit, try to stay in shape,” Webster said.
They are scheduled for a game at Riverhill Academy April 7.
“We need to be ready for that,” Webster said.
During the current suspension, which lasts just over three weeks, the Bucs had 10 games scheduled, including seven Mid State 2A Conference games.