Lights On for Lights Out

Lights at Huskie Field came on for 20 minutes last Friday evening to honor the high school athletes whose spring seasons came to a premature end due to the efforts to stop of spread of the coronavirus.

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Editor's Note:  This story has been updated as of Friday, April 17 to reflect announcement made by the Idaho High School Activities Association.

If you were anywhere near Emmett High on Friday night, April 10, you might have thought you were in a time and space break with reality. Perhaps a car honking Mardi Gras parade or a flash back to a July Cruise Night in Emmett. For twenty minutes a parade of cars circled the EHS campus honking horns as part of a tribute to spring sports athletes who have seen their seasons – and in some cases – their careers quietly come to an end.

The #BeTheLightID Friday was part of a nationwide campaign to recognize athletes efforts and aspirations that have been grounded in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19.

The twenty minutes, commencing at 8:20 p.m., or 2020 military time, saw the lights at Huskie Field come on in the twilight to an empty stadium and track. At 8:40 p.m. the lights went out. Likely for the final time this spring.

A very short season – just over a week – will be all the memories that over 150 Emmett High students will have of spring practices and competitions for 2020.

The Idaho High School Activities Association originally suspended play March 8. Then March 17 expanded that through April 20 “to align with the recommendations from the Idaho State Board of Education.”

On Friday, April 17, the IHSAA made the final determination to terminate the remainder of the spring sports seasons and keep some practice bans in place for an extended time in hopes of keeping a level playing field if and when sports return in the fall. 

The formal statement said:

"As the COVID-19 situation continued to evolve, it became apparent that these state events could not be held safely and still follow the parameters set by the governor, SBOE and the IHSAA. Our Board of Directors and office staff recognize the importance of participation in education - based activities. We empathize with the students, schools and communities that this decision impacts.

The IHSAA also understands the disappointment that this will have on our student participants, especially the seniors who were looking forward to a final culminating event. 

Current Idaho High School Activities Association policies, based on SBOE soft closure and current IHSAA rules, prohibit the use of school facilities and coaches from organizing or directing team workouts and practices remain in effect until May 18th. The IHSAA Board of Directors will continue to have conversations regarding the fall no contact period and eligibility concerns that have been raised by member schools over the past few weeks.

The IHSAA Board’s highest priority will always be ensuring the health and safety of our student participants, schools and patrons. Situations like these will allow students to use the life lessons learned in education - based activities to cope with the adversity as well as they possibly can. We look forward to getting together and playing when the time is right and it can be done safely."

While every athlete was impacted by the scrubbed season, seniors who in most cases were playing their final seasons of interscholastic sports have seen “last chances” wiped out.

“It’s a real bummer,” said Emmett senior softball player Holly Goslin. “We were hoping we would get something back at the end of the season but after the State Board announcement last week to extend its soft closure to the end of the school year pretty much kills that.”

For Goslin the closure of her senior softball season was particularly crushing. A starter on the EHS softball team since her freshman season, Goslin missed her junior season due to a serious leg injury sustained in a snowmobile accident in December 2018.

“There was a lot of work to come back from that lost season and I was really looking forward to this spring,” Goslin said.

Goslin did return to the basketball court this winter to complete her senior season there but softball holds a particularly soft spot for her.

“That’s my sport – my love,” Goslin said. “As long as I can remember I have played softball and missing the last two Springs really sucks. This was to be it!”

The loss of her final softball season and Senior Night has Goslin extra hopeful that a delayed – perhaps to midsummer – graduation is still possible.

While greatly disappointed, Goslin isn’t letting the events of this spring derail her greater plans. In the fall she plans to begin studying at Boise State for a degree in business administration with a targeted career in hotel management in mind.

The COVID-19 shutdowns have made a lasting impact on Goslin, well beyond sports.

“The hospitality industry is considered essential but it has certainly been dramatically effected,” Goslin said. “When you see everyone making adjustments – Dad working from home – us continuing our learning online – and a lot of folks missing more than their sports it puts a longer range view on things. Some of those team concepts we have had drilled into us by coaches over the years of sports really show their value in times like these.”

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