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MIAA to suspend spring season due to coronavirus pandemic, hopes for return

The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, which had its spring season underway with games continuing through Friday, has announced it will halt play following the directives from the governor’s office and the State Department of Education due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league executive committee had a conference call Friday at noon and released a statement at 5 p.m.

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It states: "The MIAA has determined that all athletic activities for our member schools will be suspended from Monday, March 16th through Sunday, March 29th. The leadership team will continue to assess conditions over this time period and will release an updated statement for the league on Monday, March 30th. Until then our concern remains focused upon the health, safety, and well-being of our student athletes, coaches and supporters. "

In a news conference Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan directed all public schools to close for two weeks starting on Monday and urged private schools to also close. The Baltimore Archdiocese followed suit soon after.

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Archbishop William E. Lori issued the following statement afterward on Thursday: “In light of the order today by Gov. Hogan that all public schools be closed for the next two weeks, I have similarly instructed that all archdiocesan schools be closed during the same time period, March 16-27, 2020 and that all school-sponsored activities be cancelled during that same time frame.”

Some of the area’s private schools have already closed their doors, while the remaining ones will close on Monday, thus completely suspending the spring athletic season.

Traditionally and through today, the league has deferred autonomy over the management of its regular season events to individual member schools. The St. Mary’s-Severn baseball game on Friday afternoon is being played as scheduled, but then both schools will suspend play afterward.

The MIAA lacrosse and baseball seasons got underway on March 3.

“The biggest thing is understanding what COVID-19 is and how it’s spreading. Health is the biggest issue," Key School athletic director Brian Boyd said.

“Right now, the best thing from MIAA and [Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s] IAAM’s decisions to stop for a few weeks, we’re given more time to decide what to do,” Boyd said. "Hopefully, people staying home will help slow the virus down. Have we learned enough to know that it’s safe to come back and play or do we have to wait longer until we make that decision? Worst case scenario, do we have to stop the season? You feel for them and you want them to have that opportunity, but that’s not the priority right now.”

The hope from all is that the spring season continues with league coaches already considering scenarios of a potential return.

If school resumes on March 30 as planned, St. Mary’s boys lacrosse coach Victor Lilly estimates the coaching staff would need three or four days of practice to “reacclimate the players to lacrosse.”

Based off that, Lilly thinks the first prudent day to play would be the following Friday, April 3.

Lilly guessed that MIAA A Conference members would dispense with out-of-conference games that were scheduled to be played between now and March 30.

The first MIAA A Conference games were slated to be played Friday, March 27. St. Mary’s was due to host Boys’ Latin on Saturday, March 28.

“The most disappointing thing with regard to the impact of the coronavirus in the high school athletic environment is the impact it has on our seniors," Lily said. "They could lose opportunities to compete, which is something they’ve been waiting a long time for.

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"For many of our players that came through our elementary school, they’ve been waiting since kindergarten to be on the game field as a senior. Obviously, all of them have been looking forward to that through four years of high school. For seniors, this is the culmination of their high school lacrosse careers. As of right now, they may have played their last game. They do not know for sure if they’ll get the opportunity to play again.”

Lilly concluded: “The health of the world is more important than a lacrosse game."

Bill Wagner and Katherine Fominykh contributed to this article.

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