Hawaii High School Athletic Association cancels most fall sports
LAHAINA – The writing was on the wall, and athletic directors and coaches across the state were bracing themselves for the official announcement for months as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to strangle the world in general and the United States in particular.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) announced last week that most fall sports – including football, girls volleyball, cross country, and cheerleading – would be postponed and possibly resumed in the winter or spring. Bowling and air riflery are designated as low-risk sports, and they are tentatively scheduled to proceed in their fall schedules.
So, along with the ever-changing school/teaching formats and health and safety protocols involved in all sports – but most especially for football – the pathway to proceed was generally perceived as tenuous at best. And, as the virus spiked on Oahu in the reopening of the state, government officials are continuously forced to rethink and reshape Hawaii’s response, particularly in public education.
Lahainaluna High School stands tall as one of the oldest public learning institutions in the country. The pride and integrity there is a testament to the commitment of the local community, the administration and the staff to serve and support the school and the athletic programs there – and particularly the football team.
The Lunas have won 13 straight Maui Interscholastic League Division II championships and four consecutive HHSAA D-II State titles, and the team had made the momentous decision to move up to the Division I level for the 2020 season.
That is all moot at this point. as elite college football conferences such as the Big Ten and Pac-12 cancelled their fall seasons, and the University of Hawaii suspended its program for 2020.
Lunas Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch noted that the postponement was expected given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“The hope is that the delay will allow all sports to be played later in the year,” he said. “This of course depends on a big improvement in our state’s ability to deal with COVID-19. My advice is to pay close attention to how the school year goes; as school gets back to normal, athletics will follow.”
There will be the complicated logistics of designating field and court times for practices and games, as well as the protocols of dealing with the scourge of the pandemic. Student-athletes, coaches, teachers and staff will all be at risk in the tentative plans laid out by the Hawaii Department of Education. It is a mixed up, ever-changing scenario that deepens the anxiety of all concerned.
Lunas Co-Head Football Coach and Maui Police Department Assistant Chief Dean Rickard said, “When the official announcement was made that fall sports would be moved back, it really didn’t come as shocking news to us. As the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff is first and foremost for the coaching staff, we feel that the decision to move the season back was a wise decision.”
“For now, we are limited in the amount of contact we are allowed to have with the players, and we are awaiting further instructions from the DOE and HHSAA. For our players, many of them with the program since the sixth grade, understand what they need to do for the upcoming season. Many of them have taken upon themselves to continue with their conditioning and weight training as an extended off-season preparation for next year.
“We are definitely in unprecedented times, and there is still a lot of uncertainty, but the hopes that football and other fall sports can be played next year gives our kids that light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. For now, only time will tell,” Coach Dean concluded.