By Maurice Patton
COVID-related measures will sideline all Spring Hill High School athletics for the next two weeks – resulting in cancellations of the Raiders’ football games Friday against visiting Lincoln County and on Sept. 18 at Tullahoma, the latter a Region 4-4A contest.
“I just had two administrators come out to the practice field to let me know that the decision has been made to shut down Spring Hill High School for two weeks and (students) go remote, and in the process shut down all Spring Hill athletics until Sept. 23, and that I needed to contact any head coaches of any teams we have scheduled between now and then,” coach Ben Martin said Wednesday.
“I really wish somebody could ask the question how other schools could have three programs shut down, but not the entire athletic department. We’re the only school in (Maury County) that’s been dealt this hand. Our administration’s hands are tied. I’d just like to know how we arrived at this decision.”
Martin said two starters missed last week’s game at Nolensville because of contact tracing and three more would have missed this week against Lincoln County.
“They were in class with someone that tested positive,” he said. “We’ve only had one isolated case on our team of a positive player. He’d been in contact with no other players. We’ve had no spread, and we’re in closer proximity than any other sport. We’ve been diligent in doing everything we’re supposed to do just so we can play.
“I feel like we’re left with more questions than we have answers for, like everything else this year, when I have to look at the 12 seniors and tell them we’re shut down for two weeks and I don’t have any more answer for them.”
Beginning Thursday, classes at the school will take place virtually. Teachers will return to the building Friday after a deep cleaning.
Previously, Spring Hill’s volleyball team had been quarantined because of pandemic-related circumstances and had been set to return to activities on Sept. 16. Volleyball will be suspended as well as girls soccer, cross country, golf and football at the school until Sept. 23.
“In the case with Spring Hill High School, due to an increased uptick in positive cases since Thursday – a significant increase – we’ve been talking over the last couple of days,” Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter said. “We’ve discussed options regarding the school and regarding athletics, and at the end of all that, (director Michael) Hickman made the decision.
“It’s not based on a comparison to what’s happening across the district. It’s not a cookie-cutter decision. Every scenario and every situation is different. I hate the situation we’re in, speaking of athletics specifically. You never want to see this happen to your athletes. You know the time and energy that goes into getting ready. It’s not a good situation all around, but neither is having to make a decision about the health and safety of students. It did not come easily and it was not made lightly.”
As it stands, the football team would resume activity two days before traveling to Mt. Juliet for a non-region game. That game had originally been scheduled for Oct. 9, but it conflicts with fall break in Maury County Public Schools. Now, Week 8 may be an option for rescheduling the Tullahoma game.
“If there’s anything that came out of not having spring practice, we developed a system and put our workouts online,” Martin said. “They’ll all have their workouts. Hopefully they’ll be disciplined enough to do them.”
Other area football teams that have been impacted by the pandemic include Columbia Central, which was briefly shut down during the preseason and had to pick up a game this week at Giles County after its originally scheduled opponent, Overton, was unavailable as Metro Nashville Public Schools have delayed all athletic activity indefinitely; Columbia Academy, which played at Clay County in its Aug. 21 season opener after Marshall County was sidelined; and Summertown, which was slated to travel last week to Collinwood before the Trojans announced they were unavailable to play.
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.