By Troy Treasure
The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) reacted quickly to Governor Parson’s order April 9 that public, parochial and private classrooms would remain closed through the end of the current academic year.
Shortly after the governor’s declaration MSHSAA cancelled spring post-season events, including athletics.
“This decision is very difficult for all involved especially given the impact it will have on our students, parents, teachers and administrators throughout the state,” Executive Director Dr. Kerwin Urhahn said in a statement.
“We thank all the participants, the coaches/directors/advisors, the administrations, the parents and everyone else who has dedicated tremendous amounts of time, passion and effort to these events,” Urhahn added.
Response from local coaches was universal disappointment. North Shelby track coach Renee Shinn indicated she has four seniors, all competitive, all who were aspiring to go out with a bang.
“It feels like a punch in the stomach for them not to compete,” Shinn said in an email. “Presley Stoneburner has competed at state all three years and I was so hopeful she would have the opportunity to medal this year at state. Paige Shinn and Maggie VonThun both competed with Presley their sophomore year at state in the 4×100. All three ladies had goals including state competition and breaking North Shelby records.
“I was happy Gus Williams was able to return to the track team after battling a knee injury his junior year,” Shinn continued. “Like the senior ladies, one of his goals was state competition, specifically in the javelin.
“My heart breaks for these athletes to not have the opportunity to compete and reach for those goals.”
South Shelby golf coach Kevin Mitchell said by telephone the Cardinals had big goals, led by seniors Kanon Kendrick and Ethan O’Neal.
“As a team, we would have had a great opportunity to win district, place at sectional and go to state,” Mitchell said. “Of course, Kanon finished fifth last year and his goal was to win a state championship. He had a legit shot.”
South Shelby athletics director and track coach Rob Wilt used the same analogy as Shinn to describe Parson’s edict.
“It’s a gut punch for all of our spring athletes, especially our seniors,” Wilt said. “We have several seniors involved in golf, baseball and track most of which will not be playing at the next level. This was going to be their last chance to compete in an organized competition and for that to be taken away, it definitely stings a bit.”
However, Wilt described the South Shelby Class of 2020 as “resilient” and “hard-working,” traits that will pay off during their adulthood.
“I have no doubt they will persevere and come out on the other side of this pandemic better than ever,” he said.
North Shelby athletics director and baseball coach Scott Gaines indicated the longer classes were delayed, the more he resigned himself to not having baseball in 2020.
“It’s unfortunate for the seniors because they are missing a lot of lasts, not just athletically,” Gaines said. “I told the team the last day of practice to keep themselves prepared as if there would be a season. I also told them there was a possibility the whole season could be lost.”
Gaines was asked about effects on underclassmen.
“It is a year of development they will miss out on,” he replied. “I’m hopeful I can get them all together this summer to play a few games against some local teams, so the season isn’t a complete loss.
“This situation is new to all of us,” Gaines added. “While I’m trying to wrap my head around the situation as a whole, I know we will all emerge from this stronger and prepared to tackle the future.”
Efforts to reach South Shelby baseball coach Brian Fohey were unsuccessful.