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We are all on Team Virginia

Dear Editor:

On behalf of the Virginia High School League (VHSL), I want to thank you for your leadership and cooperation during this unprecedented health crisis. As we navigate our way through these unchartered times together, we will all need to make sacrifices and changes to our lives and daily schedules to win this battle. There will be many instances where we are going to have to do what we need to do rather than what we want to do.

On Monday, March 23, Gov. Northam made the decision to close schools for the remainder of the school year. I am sure this is a decision that was not an easy one, but it was made after much consultation and advice from very knowledgeable health professionals and experienced school leaders. Most importantly, his decision was made to protect and ensure the safety for all citizens of Virginia.

To everyone associated with spring sports and academic programs, especially coaches and players, this situation has created extreme disappointment. Anyone who has ever been associated with being part of a team knows the countless hours of work, sweat, and dedication that have been put into preparing for this season.

Over the years, students, coaches, and parents have worked hard and overcome many challenges to get prepared for this season. It is normal that all of you are disappointed and hurting. All of us are hurting too.

Spring sports and the traditional spring season has been canceled. On Tuesday, March 24, the VHSL Crisis Management Team decided to delay until May making any decisions related to considering any summer options for spring sports. Nothing can or will be done before then. Your VHSL staff and school leaders are dealing with personal and professional challenges in adapting to social distancing mandates themselves.

With that, I ask every person to put spring sports aside for now and to focus on taking steps now to ensure the best future we can for the well-being of the commonwealth and our students. Concentrate on being the best teammate you have ever been for another team — Team Virginia. Team Virginia consists of Virginia’s leaders, health and medical providers and every citizen in the commonwealth. Our team is fighting the battle against COVID-19.

In the sports world, we talk about the many lessons learned from being on a team and participating in education-based activities. Research has proven the value students gain by being a team member, working collaboratively, showing grit, overcoming adversity and being resilient.

Now we all have an opportunity to apply those values to a situation different than competing on a field, court or in a classroom.

Doctors and scientists have declared the only way to defeat the coronavirus is to diligently follow the guidelines as prescribed. The recommendations of the CDC and public health officials will likely continue to evolve as the medical and scientific communities learn more about the best ways to mitigate risks to the most vulnerable members of our community. Your VHSL leadership team will continue to work at formulating the best plan for the future to serve our students and member institutions in the months to come.

Each of us need to fulfill our role and be a great teammate to defeat this very dangerous opponent and keep our communities safe. Let’s work together to defeat this opponent and then celebrate the greatest victory of our lives.

The VHSL is committed to putting the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes and citizens at the forefront during this unprecedented health crisis. We truly appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

Thank you,

John W. “Billy” Haun, Ed.D.

VHSL Executive Director