Love and life are deep, maybe as his skies are wide. — Rush “Tom Sawyer”
Man, I don’t want to be a naysayer.
But it doesn’t look good as far as Hawaii high school spring sports goes.
The chances of Hawaii’s five leagues holding a real season are getting smaller every day because of the health concerns caused by COVID-19.
As it stands right now, only one league — the private school ILH — is playing any kind of competitive sports. And that — according to those in the know — has been limited so far to things such as junior varsity cross country, intra-school basketball scrimmages, tennis matches, and conditioning and practice in some other sports.
A Kapolei runner slid into third base during a softball state tournament game against Kamehameha-Hawaii in 2019. (Image credit: Hawaii Tribune-Herald).
It’s a tick, tick, tick situation for the other four leagues (MIL, KIF, BIIF and OIA) that fall under the umbrella of the Hawaii Department of Education. So far, the students at these mostly public schools are not on campus and still in distance learning mode. They’re also not on the fields doing any team drills or conditioning in baseball, golf, judo, softball, tennis, track and field, boys volleyball and girls water polo.
That last sentence should serve as a sign that the spring sports season envisioned by the Hawaii leagues is evaporating before it begins. The plan drawn up (after the axe fell on the fall and winter seasons) was to hold all of the spring sports listed above from March to May.
Well, it’s Feb. 17 and these athletes need about four weeks to prepare for any kind of competitive season. So, even if conditioning and practices started now, games would not occur until the middle of March.
And there is no telling if word will ever come from the DOE. Athletic directors contacted by Bedrock Sports Hawaii say they’re waiting for word, and if given the word, they will be ready with safety protocols in place.
But some administrators and coaches are under the impression that a spring season is more of a wish than a reality. They just can’t say that, and — to be fair — they don’t know for sure. Maybe the DOE and Department of Health will eventually give some sort of go-ahead for high school spring sports. An encouraging sign is that there has been some headway in the form of government safety guidelines for sports leagues at the youth level to begin across the state.
But before you know it, February will turn into March and time will continue to march on — sports or no sports. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that COVID-19 is extremely close to succeeding in wiping out all of the 2020-21 Hawaii high school sports calendar (to go along with the spring season of 2019-20 that it took away).
There are some coaches out there who don’t think think the DOE will give the spring sports go-ahead unless students come back to campus first.
But, hey, who knows, maybe there will be an 11th-hour decision to bring kids back to campus for the fourth quarter along with a shortened spring season. And it’s also possible the private-school ILH may still implement league-only play for the spring and various other fall and winter sports. There has been some talk of the ILH trying to put together a shortened football and girls volleyball season. At last check, football was indeed still part of the private-school discussion.
If, however, the whole 2020-21 calendar is a bust, I can’t help but think of all the dreams and passions of the students put on hold for so long.
Take Tatum Moku, for instance. The last time a track and field season was held, in 2019, she pole vaulted 11 feet for Damien and was a budding star in the sport with amazing potential.
I wrote the following story about Moku in May 2019: https://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/featured/middle-schoolers-win-high-school-track-events-at-moanalua, where it reads that she has four seasons ahead of her to realize that potential.
Now it’s looking a lot like those four seasons are about to be whittled to two.
You won’t find many people in positions of power who will speak on the record about this subject. The main reason for that is that they just don’t know what the DOE will do. They’re waiting just like all of the athletes, coaches, parents and fans.
The DOE has been silent and that continued silence says a lot.