By Tim Chambers
For seniors like Hannah Brooks, this was the softball season she had been waiting on. Her team was filled with tons of experience and many returning players. They were expected to challenge for a possible conference championship, which was evident when they won at Sullivan East last week 9-8. And she could be the next Lady Longhorn that signs to play college athletics. The Lady Longhorns supposed to play another conference game on Tuesday against Happy Valley, but all that changed early on Monday morning. It was announced that Johnson County Schools would be closed until April 16 because of the COVID-19 virus threat.
Head softball coach Greg Reece met with the team to give them the news that school would be closed until April 16, and there would be no games during that time span.
“It’s like we were expecting it but not prepared for it,” said senior player Hannah Brooks. “You wait all your life to complete your senior year to make memories, and it’s taken away. It doesn’t seem fair, but we have to accept it.”
It’s probably not fair for Johnson County that has one of their best softball teams ever. They are currently 2-0 with wins over Ashe County and Sullivan East, but for now, the season has been put on the shelf. Head coach Greg Reece could detect disappointment when he told his team on Monday morning.
“It hurts, but look at the kids from Hampton; they are supposed to be playing in the state tournament and didn’t get to go,” Reece said. “That would really hurt. I hate it for the girls because they have worked hard to get where they are. You’ll always wonder how far you could have gone if things stayed the way they are. Hopefully, they’ll get something done for the senior players over the next few weeks.”
It’s worth noting that everyone must remember that athletics is important, very important to our Johnson County athletes and community, but they currently need to be put on hold with everything going on at the National level due to the threat of the COVID-19 virus. School being out means that the players cannot use any of the high school facilities to practice on or to keep their skills up to date.
“We’re not going to write our season off just yet,” said Brooks. “They could get this thing resolved soon. We need to stay ready in case it starts back. We’ll be ready to go.”
TSSAA has already postponed the girls’ and boys’ state basketball tournaments, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be played. That means that a team like Sullivan South that earned their first state tournament ever in basketball will miss out playing in Murfreesboro at the big glasshouse. Whether or not they are rescheduled will depend on the suspension and the availability of facilities.
Director of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox agreed to look at the overall pictures. Athletic directors will get together over the next couple of weeks to try and come up with a plan to finish their remaining games. A few options could be put in place.
Games could be played with limited attendance with possibly parents only in attendance. Another possible scenario is that teams would play conference games only and cancel all their non-conference games allowing them to jump right into to tournament play.
The Tomahawk will keep its readers informed if any changes should occur in high school athletics. One thing is certain. No high school or junior high games will be played until after school starts back on April 17. Hopefully, it won’t affect Little League Baseball.