High school spring sports could continue

GAINESVILLE — The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) is offering some student-athletes a glimmer of hope.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
The Okeechobee High School Lady Brahmans softball team (pictured) and other spring sports teams in the Lake Okeechobee area could get a chance to finish their season if school resumes on May 3.

Baseball, softball, flag football and tennis teams all around the lake were stopped cold in the middle of their seasons right as COVID-19 hit. Now, they may get to finish them.

“Pending schools are back in session and afforded the opportunity to resume activities after May 3, by federal, state and local authorities, the FHSAA will follow the advice and guidance available to us at that time regarding the continuance of all FHSAA spring sports,” read the statement released by FHSAA on March 31. “In light of the current situation, the FHSAA staff is actively working on creative solutions for the continuance of spring sports, which could extend through June 30.”

If the spring sports season is extended to June 30, that would leave enough time for teams around the lake to finish their schedules and hold playoffs.

That has to be great news for those teams, especially the seniors at those schools who were looking at possibly missing out on their final season. It will also be another opportunity for those hoping to land a scholarship to make an impression on college scouts.

The FHSAA also said it is looking into giving students who missed their season due to COVID-19 an extra year of eligibility.

Previously, FHSAA has said the bylaws would still be in effect for any student eligibility requirements — specifically, bylaw 9.5.1, which states that a student is limited to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility beginning with the semester they began ninth grade for the first time. After eight consecutive semesters, the student is permanently ineligible.

“The FHSAA does understand the hardships caused by COVID-19 and the inability to play spring sports,” the statement continued. “If we are not able to continue spring sports, the FHSAA is working diligently to create a plan regarding additional eligibility for students who have not been able to participate in spring sports.”

Still, the FHSAA made clear that all of this is contingent on getting the all clear from health officials and local authorities.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, fans and local communities are our top priority,” concluded the statement. “We appreciate all member schools’ cooperation in following federal, state and local recommendations and mandates during this time.”

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