The 2020 Georgia Independent School Association spring athletics season will not get a proper conclusion.
Last week, the GISA officially announced that it canceled spring state championships. The decision comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has previously wreaked havoc on sports from high school to the pros.
“The small hope of having something in June was just that: a very small chance,” Gatewood boys track and field head coach Jeff Ratliff wrote in a newsletter to his players and their families. “In the end, the decision was pretty much what we all knew was coming. I hate it for our team and especially our seniors.”
Ratliff, who also serves as Gatewood’s head football coach, had hopes of leading the Gators track and field program to more state-level glory this year. The team took home state honors in 2019, capping off a stellar school year for Gatewood athletics.
The GISA took an extended waitand-see approach to the end of spring athletic season, unlike its counterparts, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS). The GHSA governs sports at all other Lake Country schools except for Nathanael Greene Academy, which is part of GAPPS.
Those other entities officially canceled spring athletics weeks ago, soon after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared that Georgia’s public schools will remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 school year in light of the coronavirus crisis.
In the end, GISA officials decided to follow suit.
“To my seniors and senior parents, I appreciate all that you have done for our school,” Ratliff wrote. “You have supported the program year in and year out. Words cannot express how thankful I am for you. I trust you know that I love your son and want nothing but the best for him.”
Those seniors will not get to finish out their high school careers in the traditional manner. The team will not compete together again.
And Gatewood students did not finish the school year in normal fashion.
Regardless of the chaotic situation, Ratliff wrote to the Gatewood family that they should remain positive and appreciative, even if the school year did not end in the expected way.
“As hard as it is to say the season is over without a chance to finish it, I want each of you to continue to thank God for all that he has given us,” Ratliff said. “We are very blessed. These times will pass, and we will get back to normal. Until then, stay safe and continue to pray for our community and nation.”