Events for Iowa’s high schools are prohibited through the end of April as Governor Kim Reynolds  Thursday extended Iowa school closures to the end of the month.

The continued response to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) moves a projected school return date from April 13 to May 1 for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa High School Music Association, the Iowa High School Speech Association as well as the boys Iowa High School Athletic Association.

Gov. Reynolds announced the extension of school closures while Iowa Department of Education executive director Dr. Ann Lebo announced provisions for continued online learning. Meanwhile, guidelines continues to prohibit mass gatherings and keep school facilities closed statewide.

The goal of the boys and girls Unified Activities organizations is the health and safety of students, schools, and their communities during this pandemic.

The IGHSAU and IHSAA are still working to offer spring and summer sports opportunities, provided they can be done safely and follow CDC, state, and local guidelines. The IHSMA and IHSSA are collaborating with member schools to provide up-to-date guidance for teachers and participants through this prohibited period.

However, schedules are reviewed on an as-needed basis.

Iowa public health officials continue to advise individuals to stay at home as much as possible and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

“We are committed to bringing a sense of familiarity to our young people whose school year has been so disrupted by this adjusted spring season,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said. 

“It is our hope that students return to school on the current target date and have the opportunity to participate in the activities that mean so much to them.

“Like all Iowans, we are committed to doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and we support the steps Governor Reynolds has taken to achieve that goal.”

According to the latest statement for the boys and girls associations – with a potential May 1 restart to school, per Iowa Governor Reynolds – spring sports practices would begin May 1, with both the first girls’ and boys’ soccer matches tentatively set for May 8.

All spring sports have been delayed, for now, with tentative start dates for most sports ­­— track and field, golf, team tennis and individual tennis — set to begin May 4. While soccer season would begin May 8 and  both softball and baseball on June 1.

Local soccer seasons disrupted

The girls’ soccer season originally was supposed to have begun April 7 with Winterset-Earlham (W-E) girls hosting Perry. 

By April’s end, the W-E girls would have played Boone, North Polk, DM Roosevelt, Carlisle, DM East, DC-Grimes, and Gilbert. A May 1 road game to Carroll also will be a likely casualty.

If there is a return to school, it is believed a shortened season would likely consist of conference matches, depending on student and school availabilities and schedules.

Seniors may miss final season

For the W-E girls, the 15-member team is comprised of eight seniors, who, now it seems, quite likely will never get to play another high school match.

The eight seniors on the girls team include Kailey Beebe, Addison Boyle, Kiernan Blanchard, Emma Dole, Alyssa Dickey, Megan McDonald, Brooklyn McVay, and Kylee Brown.

On the boys’ side of things, the W-E team has six seniors. They include Justin Good, Slater Goff, Nick Wilson, Dixon Terry, Clay Griswold, and Justin McKinney.

Help for those losing a senior season

The boys’ association web site has an interesting article entitled “Unfinished Business: 5 Insights When Your Athletic Season is Sidelined by a Pandemic.”

The article is penned by the executive director of Sidelined USA, Christine Pinalto.

This means, as Pinalto says, “Seniors, even more so, considering they won’t get the normal closure to their high school or college athletic career they’ve anticipated for years and rightfully earned.”

Pinalto lists a five-step process for athletes to seriously consider.

• You have earned the right to grieve

What you have lost is significant. It can’t be fixed. It can’t be replaced.

Be wary of people who try to fix you. Don’t allow others to attempt to diminish your pain. If well intended words sting, shrug them off.

Your pain is valid. Get your feelings out. Don’t internalize your emotions.

“Talking it out” with a friend or family member or trainer is important. Remember, there is no shame asking for help.

Work on your mindset: self–talk and identity

Speak into the grief. Adopt a forward-thinking perspective. Train your mind to manage the negative thinking.

“This is the time to remember to place your identity in something more solid than your athletic achievements,” Pinalto says.

Keep/create a familiar schedule

Strict routines have been the norm. Routines have likely been completely disrupted. Get back to your normal routine and maintain a schedule.

“It’s difficult to trudge forward with remaining goals if you feel like so much has been taken away from you that you don’t feel like you even recognize your new life,” Pinalto advises.

Stay physical

“Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline.” 

You are used to spending many hours a week training for competition. If you don’t continue to work out, loss of energy, irritability, tension, depression and loss of motivation can occur.

Stick with a daily workout routine prioritizing at least 20 minutes for your workout..

Find new ways to stay competitive

Set new goals. They could be physical or academic. Reconnect with you inner competitor as soon as possible. Get busy achieving your next accomplishment.

Reporter at the Winterset Madisonian. He has also been the managing editor at the Madisonian.