‘Let’s try to make something work’; Parents petition UHSAA to save spring sports

Pine View at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 26, 2019 | File photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Less than a week after the Utah High School Activities Association announced there will be no spring sports season, a group of parents have come together with the intention of salvaging it.

Snow Canyon at Desert Hills, Region 9 boys soccer season opener, St. George, Utah, March 3, 2020 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

A petition was started that has now been signed by over 5,500 people online, and a video on YouTube has been created that has over 20,000 views.

“The UHSAA board of trustees promotes the benefits of participating in education-based high school activities and recognizes the overwhelming disappointment this decision is for the students and athletes, especially seniors,” UHSAA assistant director Jon Oglesby said. “The board’s highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of the students, school and communities during this challenging time.”

The main goal of the petition is not to bring back spring sports right now. Rather, they are asking the UHSAA and Gov. Gary Herbert not to take the idea of playing a spring sports season off the table.

“With the magnitude of the situation, it’s not being downplayed at all,” Gavin Frei, father of Snow Canyon’s Landon Frei, said. “The ask is, don’t take it off the table. Let’s just see what happens and not rob these kids, especially the seniors, of this experience. Let’s try to make something work. That is all based on if restrictions get lifted and if things happen.”

Frei became involved with the petition when he was placed in a group chat with the parents of athletes from across the state. He had gotten to know some of the parents through his son’s travels with sports, and they reached out. He then gathered some local athletes for the YouTube video.

Snow Canyon at Pine View softball, St. George, Utah, March 19, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

“The discussion was not necessarily we 100% need to bring this back, the discussion was that this was felt by all a little premature,” Frei said. “That was the point they wanted to get across.”

Steve Dunham, communications director for the Washington County School District, said they had not thought of the idea of salvaging the spring sports season.

“Obviously, we work closely with the UHSAA, but, unfortunately, where the governor has announced that our schools are under this soft closure, we can’t have groups in the buildings,” Dunham said. “If we can’t have groups in the buildings or on our fields, we can’t have the sports. They kind of go hand in hand so they would have to get the governor to change his stance on what’s taking place.”

One idea that has been bounced around is the possibility of playing spring sports into the summer so that there could be some sort of season. Dunham said this is a lot of speculation, and it would be tough, but they would stand behind the governor and the UHSAA.

“The schools in the Salt Lake area play baseball past graduation past the school year anyway,” Frei said of playing into the summer. “It’s not an unheard of thing where a baseball or a soccer state tournament can go into the summer. I think if you can go walk around Lowe’s with a couple hundred people shoulder to shoulder, and you can go to a restaurant here maybe in the first part of May and eat with people next to you, why can’t kids play baseball on a two-acre baseball field.”

When asked about the health and safety that the UHSAA mentioned in their statement, Frei said he expects people to be on both sides of the topic.

High jumpers compete at the state track and field championships, Provo, Utah, May 18, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News / Cedar City News

“I think there’s going to be people who are totally freaked out that their son or daughter may have a chance to be exposed to it, and then there’s going to be people who have no care whatsoever about that and aren’t worried about that at all,” Frei said. “It might need to be a voluntary thing, but there are thousands and thousands of kids in the state where it’s their one shot. The risk-reward of that to me is somehow, someway you try to make something work.”

Deseret News reported Monday that members of the UHSAA had met with the governor and talked about possibly playing spring sports this year. The UHSAA gave Deseret News the following statement.

“Representatives of the UHSAA had a productive conversation with the Governor and staff regarding the public health challenges and the safety risks associated with any resumption of spring high school activities during the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement reads.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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