DHS athletes in limbo

The stands, as well as the dugout at Copper King Stadium remain empty as many coaches and athletes at Douglas High School wonder if they will be allowed to finish their season.

Will there or won’t there be a spring sports season?

That’s the question Douglas High School coaches and athletes are wondering.

Douglas High School’s athletics have been on hold since Governor Doug Ducey announced all Arizona schools must close through March 27.

The closure means athletic teams cannot practice or play any games until classes resume.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association did deliver a bit of good news however when it announced its executive board decided not to postpone or cancel the spring championship season.

“The governor’s office and the state health department have recommended a two-week suspension of school and activities,” a statement by Seth Polansky, Sports Information Coordinator for the AIA said. “If this time frame holds true, it should hopefully not impact postseason tournaments. We will keep all processes in place for postseason tournaments. If the spring championship season extends for any period of time, the AIA will be ready to conduct tournaments in their entirety.”

The release goes on to state the earliest possible date for the resumption of competition will be Monday, March 30 unless otherwise notified.

“Our first objective is to get students back into the classroom and then have them return to the athletic arenas when appropriate,” the statement reads. “As board members we will work diligently with our constituents to ensure a smooth transition back to school as usual.”

The Douglas Bulldog baseball team last played March 11 when they beat the Buena Colts 7-4 at Copper King Stadium. The Bulldogs, 7-1, were scheduled to play a minimum of three games last week at the Lancer Classic in Tucson. Those games were cancelled as were three games this week against Desert View, Nogales and Buena.

Gilbert Rojas, coach of the Bulldogs, says what’s happening is unfortunate.

“I understand the situation,” he said. “The safety of our kids is first and foremost.I feel bad for our seniors. This is something beyond our control. I have no answers for their questions.”

The coach said he has not had any contact with his players since learning the season was being placed on a two-week hiatus, and he is waiting for word from his administrators as to when he can resume practice.

The Lady Bulldogs softball team has yet to play a home game this season and last played on Friday, March 13 beating Flowing Wells 11-1, improving to 4-1 on the season.

Douglas’ softball coach Lorena Tapia said she was caught off guard when former DHS coach Abe Grijalva informed her prior to the start of the game, he was honoring his seniors that day because it looked like that would be their last game this year.

“We were all shaken up by that,” Coach Tapia said. “I started my seniors that day and they played well. Afterwards my girls were upset and asking what’s next? I had no words to tell them anything. It was hard. We have to do what’s best for everybody involved.”

The Lady Bulldogs were scheduled to host Nogales, Sunnyside and Willcox this past weekend in the Fourth Annual Softball Invitational. That tournament was cancelled as were games this week against Desert View,Nogales and Buena.

“This whole situation is very surreal,” the coach said. “These kids have put so much time and effort into getting themselves ready for the season and then something that’s completely beyond your control happens.”

Tapia says she remains in contact with her players on a daily basis and encourages them to get out and throw, run, and try to stay in shape just in case the season should resume.

“We’re all waiting to see what’s going to happen,” she said. “Will we, or won’t we have a softball season.”

DHS tennis was also scheduled to play in the Chandler Invitational this past weekend and Douglas’ track teams were supposed to be at the Bisbee Invitational. Those events did not happen.

Meanwhile, coaches and players for all DHS sports continue to wait and hope there will be a season to return to in the coming weeks.

The DHS baseball, softball and tennis teams have games scheduled for Tuesday, March 31. Coaches should know later this week if those games will take place. Track is scheduled for an invitational April 3 in Casa Grande.

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