The second educational directive from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and state Superintendent of Education Kathy Hoffman extended the state’s school closures an additional two weeks — from the original one week to three. This directly impacts not only classes but also extracurricular activities, putting all state school-related organizations and athletics on temporary suspension.

“No school, no practices,” Benson High School assistant principal/athletic director Tad Jacobson said. “We are on the same playing field as everyone in the state – no one can currently practice or compete.”

“Although we all feel bad for the players and coaches who were so looking forward to their spring seasons, we have to consider the bigger picture – the safety and health of our students and everyone associated with our schools.”

This view of the current situation is echoed by several coaches in the area. Although coaches realize how much their athletes want to be not only practicing but competing in their respective sports, it is definitely the health and safety of everyone involved that is of utmost importance.

“We all feel bad for our athletes,” Benson High School baseball coach Fred Trujillo said. “We need to go with the guidance from our governor and superintendent of education to take the lead. As difficult as this is right now, not being able to practice or compete, we all have to live with their decisions.”

This belief in our state leaders is a positive approach to the difficult decisions they are making. “We need to use extreme caution right now when it comes to interacting with others,” Benson High School tennis coach Ginger Barker said. “Yes it is frustrating that we cannot practice or compete, we just need to realize that this is affecting everyone in the state, in our nation, equally. There definitely is a lot of uncertainty out there right – it’s a hurry up and wait feeling. It’s simply beyond our control.”

Looking at what is best for everyone is a key factor in the decisions currently being made. “The state is doing what’s best for our athletes and our communities,” St. David baseball coach Ron Goodman said. “My heart goes out to our athletes who were so looking forward to their spring sports – and to the coaches who can’t practice or coach their players. It’s hard but we must keep a positive attitude through all of this.”

Keeping students up to date with their studies and student athletes in condition for their sports is another area of concern. Online education is often the answer to missed classroom time while individual workouts to stay in shape is the key to assisting athletes keep their “edge.”

“This is a new thing for all of us,” St. David track & field coach Patrick Nduwimana said. “Like classroom teachers, I have sent out individual workouts to my athletes. We all want our students to stay healthy, to stay in shape. It’s about more than our individual sports, it’s about life dynamics.”

The impact of lost practice time and cancelled games and meets is also affecting how coaches look at these few weeks. “This is definitely disappointing but we need to understand the need for safety is of utmost importance,” Benson High track & field coach Randy Barney said.

“This is really tough, not only on our seniors but for our underclass athletes who have been working so hard these past few weeks. I know we have had a great start to our season as have other teams in our area. Our teams have shown great character and I know that through this setback they will grow and continue to shine through diversity.”

Although their seasons have changed dramatically from what they had originally anticipated, it is the belief in their leaders that has coaches standing strong for the future of their athletes and their programs.

“Though I’m very disappointed in the spring athletic seasons being compromised,” Benson High golf coach Jim Howe said, “we all have to support social distancing and hope for the day we can get back to some normalcy.”

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