Governor Andy Beshear made the announcement Monday, April 21 to superintendents that kindergarten through 12th grade schools are not reopening for in-person classes for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.
During his news conference, Beshear said he knew the news would hit hard especially for high school senior athletes.
The day after Beshear’s announcement, Commissioner of Kentucky High School Athletics Association Julian Tackett released the following statement.
“With the announcement yesterday of the recommended closure of all Kindergarten-12th grade schools to in-person instruction throughout Kentucky for the remainder of the school year, the KHSAA Board of Control today approved the Commissioner’s recommendation and announcement by unanimous vote that the 2020 state basketball tournaments will not be resumed, while also approving the cancellation of all regular-season practices and contests as well as all postseason tournament championship events for all spring sports and sport-activities for the 2019-2020 school year,” Tackett said. “This means the termination of the archery, bass fishing, e-sports, baseball, softball, tennis, and track and field seasons. This will also result in the continuance of all provisions of the Coronavirus Dead Period provisions until further notice to the member schools from the commissioner.”
The announcement means that Franlin-Simpson’s archery, baseball, softball, bass fishing, tennis and track and field programs were unable to have a season.
“Archery is a year round sport but the majority of the competitions happen after Christmas,” Haley Arteburn, head coach of Franklin-Simpson’s archery teams, said. “The sport has grown so much in the last few years that they have had to expand the national competition to hold a Western Nationals and an Eastern Nationals. It makes me sad for these kids, in which the majority of our team is made up of students from Lincoln Elementary and the middle school this year, who would have brought a new awareness to the sport to Franklin Simpson Schools. I had all the confidence in the world that this group of students was going to do big things at competitions. This is a sport for anyone. Anyone can shoot a bow and it’s sad that the chance was taken away from these kids this year.”
Todd Caudill, head coach of the Franklin-Simpson Lady Cats softball team, also shared his sadness.
“I told the team that I loved them and it breaks my heart that we will have no memories to share from this season, but I hope and pray that this will make us stronger and appreciate it all when things get better,” Caudill said. “And I especially hate it for our senior Danyelle Like, who was robbed of the special events that go with being a senior but I know that there are great things for her as she moves forward. Our mission for our softball team is to prepare our players for what comes after high school. We want them to be strong and have a better understanding of how to handle success and adversity. In this case, I think we have all learned not to take anything for granted and appreciate the ones closest to us.”
Brigitte Kilburn, head coach of the Franklin-Simpson tennis teams, felt student careers ending prematurely.
“It was really sad for these students. Most of the boys were seniors and will not be returning so their FSHS tennis career ended too abruptly for any of us,” Kilburn said. “The girl’s had one senior and a foreign exchange student that didn’t get to play. However, they were all great kids and handled it like we would expect from this great class of seniors.”
Chris Pyles, head coach of the Franklin-Simpson track and field teams, felt the situation was unexpected but the importance is on keeping the players healthy.
“This spring has been devastating for athletes across the Commonwealth. This is something we never, never expected to see in our lifetimes, and in no way were we prepared, “ Pyles said. “However, the safety of our athletes is our highest priority, so we will do whatever it takes to keep them safe and healthy. Delivering the news to our team was extremely difficult, especially knowing that our seniors were not given the chance to compete again as high school athletes. I just made sure to tell the team that they mean so much to me and I am honored to be their coach. I know times are tough, but we will get through this together.”
Drew Snider, head coach of Franklin-Simpson’s bass fishing teams, said it is unfortunate that the season was canceled.
“I hate it most for our seniors,” Snider said. “They have put in the work over the past couple of years and were prepared to make a run to qualify for the state tournament. The other unfortunate thing about this is that my sophomores and juniors lose a year of gaining experience. I thanked my seniors and told them I was sorry this is how their senior year happened. I told the team that this whole situation is very unfortunate but this is the hand we are dealt with this year. We will come back next season better than ever.”
Matt Wilhite, head coach of the Franklin-Simpson Wildcats’ baseball team, said he has been in touch with students since the cancelation was announced.
“We are all absolutely devastated for our spring sport student athletes, as well as for our seniors for 2020,” Wilhite said. “I can’t imagine not being able to play your senior year. I had the chance to talk to our boys tonight and I just thanked them so much for the time and effort they had put into Franklin Simpson Baseball, and that I was very proud of them. This is not only hard on those kids, but it’s definitely hard on those parents as well. The time that they have put in throughout all these years watching their kids play, and to have that taken away for their child’s senior year it breaks your heart for them as well.”