Although a date or structure for resuming high school athletics in the state of Missouri is in total limbo, Marceline Athletic Director and head football coach Mark Ross is holding on to a thread of optimism.
He believes that, although coronavirus disease COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow, the majority of his administrative colleagues throughout the state have grasped the same cross-fingered hope.
“We definitely hope that we can get back to a little bit of normalcy sooner than later, but obviously we’re just sitting back and waiting to hear what the Governor and the experts say,” Ross said last week. “We’re really just waiting to see what happens.”
In the case of football -- should the season be cleared to occur as scheduled within the next few months, which is still anyone’s guess -- MSHSAA has spoken openly with athletic directors about waiving the summertime dead-period and would be far more lenient on contact limitations.
With all spring sports being outright canceled in Missouri, Ross thinks it is realistic that semi-formal competitions may be held in the summer for track and baseball athletes.
Of course, as much as he wants his student-athletes competing, safety is always on the forefront.
“We’re really hoping that worst-case scenario is that our kids can start doing stuff together by June, and that’s kind of the fingers-crossed target for all sports,” the soon-to-be third-year AD said.
“If that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, and the last thing we’ll do is force anything. I think this goes for all the people in Missouri I’ve spoken with: we’re not going to make any decisions until we have some direction.”
From a football perspective, Ross said that his team is still preparing as though nothing has changed aside from lack of physical interaction.
What he has delegated his “leadership council” for the 2020 football season has still had its regular meetings, although all of them have taken place via the internet since the school’s indefinite closure.
Understandably, even the school track at Chester Ray is closed. As it stands right now, all facilities on Marceline’s campus will reopen at the same time, whenever that may be.
The Kansas alumnus said that he has been impressed with how well a group of teenagers could understand a situation of such magnitude, even if not directly affected by it.
“We’ve been amazed with how fully understanding these kids are of what they need to be doing in order to get us back to some normalcy here,” Ross said. “Really all of our students have done a really great job of kind of understanding the gravity of this thing, and until we know otherwise, that’s the biggest step they can take.”