Shortly after Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that schools across the state of Tennessee would be closed for the remainder of the spring semester, the TSSAA reacted similarly and pulled the plug on all spring sports athletics.
Also, it means that the girls state basketball tournament, which had reached the semifinal round will not be completed, nor will the boys state tournament, which was scheduled to take place the following week in March.
Locally, though, while basketball season had long been over in Hartsville before the coronavirus pandemic hit, it is the spring sports that bear the brunt of the damage to the athletic seasons.
Baseball, softball, soccer and track seasons were all halted right around the time of spring break, and none of those sports will be seen through to completion, meaning that the seniors who were members of those teams will have their final year of eligibility come to an end just as the seasons were getting started.
“With TSSAA cancelling all spring sports for the remainder of the 2020 season it really is disappointing for our seniors,” said TCHS softball coach Blake Satterfield. “My heart goes out to them, but they will go on to have successful careers in whatever path they choose. We all wish them the best of luck.”
The softball team had just one senior – Sierra Stafford. As for the baseball team, the Jackets had four seniors – Kobe Pridemore, Will Holder, Ben Chumley and Chandler Barton.
“I feel for these seniors dearly,” said TCHS baseball coach Hayden Williams. “They were all great kids and I was really excited for this year for them to showcase their talents and what they’ve been working on all winter.”
Parents of seniors have expressed their disappointment as well.
“(It) hurts my heart for these athletes that worked so hard to play the sport they love. My senior put on his purple and gold uniform for the last time and didn’t know it,” Rene Pridemore said on Facebook. Her son, Kobe, has signed as a pitcher with Freed-Hardeman.
Both Satterfield and Williams said they hoped to be able to recognize their seniors with a ceremony of some kind, depending on how things proceed.
While the senior sports are gone, many are holding their breath and hoping that fall sports — primarily football — will be given the green light by the time they are ready to play.
“As for football, we are at the mercy of what restrictions are placed on us by TSSAA,” added Satterfield, who is also the head football coach. “Since March 16, we have not been allowed to have any organized practices and that will continue indefinitely depending on the current COVID-19 status.”
Contributing: Chris Gregory, Hartsville Vidette