By Maurice Patton
For Jeremy Paisley, Tuesday’s cross country meet – the one he helped orchestrate, the one he won’t be able to attend – is just the tip of the iceberg.
Last week’s announcement that athletic activity at Spring Hill High School would be suspended until Sept. 23 because of “an increased uptick in positive cases” of COVID-19, according to Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter, is expected to adversely impact the postseason prospects for the school’s golf and girls soccer teams.
“It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t hurt cross country as much as the other sports,” Paisley said as he continued preparations for Tuesday’s Southern Middle Tennessee Ring Farm all-comers meet – a meet he has administered in previous years as his Raiders and Lady Raiders have competed.
Instead, he was able to remotely round up a group of dedicated volunteers to ensure the event, in which Columbia Central, Culleoka, Hampshire and Santa Fe are also slated to participate, was still held.
“We’ve got two meets scheduled, but nothing really matters until the regionals (in late October),” he said. “As long as we’re able to run regionals.”
Still, golf coach Rick Brackney and girls soccer coach Robert Walker mirrored Paisley’s frustration with the decision, and the process by which it was reached.
“With our current situation, we’re going to be calling our (District 11-AAA chairperson) to see what can be done about rescheduling,” said Brackney, whose district tournament is currently scheduled for Sept. 21 – two days before school teams can resume activity.
“I’ve sent e-mails to the (MCPS) board, the director (Michael Hickman), Chris, expressing my extreme displeasure with this. It’s like pulling the rug out from under my team, when we didn’t have any cases on my team. And golf is one of the most socially distant sports out there. There should be no reason we can’t play matches. The TSSAA said we could play even when football was in flux.”
Particularly galling to members of the coaching staff is the fact that three different Columbia Central fall sports programs were quarantined previously, but no shutdown of the entire athletic program took place.
“I find the situation to be a bit of a double standard,” Brackney said.
Prior to the Sept. 9 announcement, only the Spring Hill volleyball team had been quarantined for pandemic-related concerns, and only a limited number of positive cases or contact tracing involved student-athletes or coaches throughout the athletic department.
Lady Raiders coach Sarah Derryberry could not be reached for comment.
“I understand the decision; you have to make tough calls,” Walker said. “I don’t think they looked at it logically. (Hickman) understands the games can be rescheduled. I wish it was that simple.”
Over the two-week period, Spring Hill girls soccer will miss five games – all in District 11-AA play.
“To make those up, we’re going to have to do some Monday, Wednesday, Saturday night games,” Walker said. “My parents, right now, would play on Sunday morning. But some of these coaches may not be so gung-ho to play. And (the officials association) can’t promise refs.
“I just felt like it was kind of a knee-jerk reaction. I don’t get paid the big bucks to make those decisions. I would just like to have good, sound decisions and have reasoning behind it.”
The Spring Hill football team, meanwhile, will miss its second game in as many weeks Friday. The Raiders had been scheduled to travel to Tullahoma for a Region 5-5A contest, but that game has been canceled as was last week’s game against visiting Lincoln County. Spring Hill is scheduled to return to play on Sept. 25 at Mt. Juliet in non-region play.
Also inactive this weekend for pandemic reasons are Mt. Pleasant, Richland and Summit. Both Mt. Pleasant and Richland have had football activities suspended; Summit was scheduled to host Overton, but Metro Nashville Public Schools have delayed athletic activity indefinitely.
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.