Westminster boys soccer coach Scott Snyder believes the sports world has had tremendous influence toward trying to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic, so it wasn't a surprise when high school spring sports competition was sidelined across the nation.
The sports industry seemed to be the first to say, "This is enough; we're closing shop."
And then everyone else followed. The GHSA recommended that all schools suspend spring sports, and then Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the closure of all public schools through March.
“I think if anybody deserves some credit it’s Adam Silver of the NBA,” Snyder said. “Because he made that decision with nobody else doing that. He was the first one, and there was a lot of pressure. There's a huge economic pressure on them, obviously not on us, to keep going, but he made that decision and I think that influenced everybody all the way through in terms of the professional sports world.”
The Westminster soccer program – boys and girls – have won a collective 27 state championships and have dominated Class AAA for nearly a decade. The girls program has won the past five seasons in Class AAA, and the boys have won titles for three consecutive seasons. Like all the top-tier soccer programs across the state, this was supposed to be Westminster's time to prepare for an inevitable postseason run and a possible championship defense.
It was not time to watch seniors, who never have lost in the playoffs, possibly end their high school careers. But Westminster’s team, like many others across the state, has been sticking together – virtually, of course -- and trying to weather the pandemic.
“It's a testament to your team that the culture stays intact throughout something like this,” Snyder said. “Because there's a lot of things going on in the world right now. And for us to be able to want to stay in contact is ... it's a good sign that your problem transcends more than just the sports world. I did challenge them to stay in shape, though. I said, 'If anybody can do more pull-ups than I can when this is over, I will give them a $20 Chick-fil-a card.'”
Snyder took notice of the pandemic’s progress and wondered during one of the Wildcats' matches if the season would reach completion. But that thought quickly took a back seat.
“At the highest level, you have got to look beyond your own myopia and realize that this is an issue that's much bigger than all the other things we're doing,” he said.
What will it take to beat the virus and possibly see a shortened soccer season and maybe even the playoffs this year? Snyder said it will take a country taking the proper precautions and banding together.
“This is historic,” Snyder said. “I remember talking to my grandparents about going off to serve in World War II, and right now I wouldn't put it at that level of sacrifice. But this is about being an American. You got to care about everybody and be safe. In World War II we saw the generation volunteer to fight. That was the real struggle. Now, I think we can band together and sit on our couch to fight a virus.”
And, after washing our hands, that’s what everyone should do. Sit on the couch and look forward to better days and maybe, just maybe, some spring sports in the future.
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