By Kevin Eickman
In any other year, as we transitioned from winter to spring sports, we would be doing previews of the upcoming sports season. We have already taken a look at tennis and were prepping stories for soccer and baseball for this week. Unfortunately, high school athletics has taken a back seat to the health and safety of students and staff throughout Delaware. With the entire Delaware school system being shut down out of an abundance of caution, sports will have to wait.
The closing of schools is expected to last a minimum of two weeks, with the earliest competition still on the schedule set to be tennis on March 30. However, several people estimate that the school shutdown will probably be lasting longer than that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for a short to medium length of closure is two to four weeks. In the CDC long-case scenario, we could be looking at a closure of up to two months. The length of closure will be based on how effectively the coronavirus is controlled and possibly dissipates over the next few weeks.
Speaking with Milford Athletic Director, Ryan Winkleblech, he is hoping that students will be able to return to school sooner rather than later. “This is obviously something we have not had a lot of experience with. The decision was made to proceed with an abundance of caution, which is absolutely correct,” Winkleblech said. “Is it an ideal situation? Of course not. But our first responsibility is to keep our students safe.”
Closing Delaware schools was not an easy decision, but in the interest of public health it is viewed as the proper way to proceed. “This is a virus that we are still learning about, it’s not like a regular flu outbreak or something of that nature. The situation is so fluid right now, we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” Winkleblech said.
We also reached out to Milford baseball coach Nick Brannan, who offered his thoughts on the current situation. “We have athletes who work to get to this point all year. They work on their skills and put in a tremendous amount of effort,” he said. “It breaks your heart, especially for the senior athletes who may not get a chance for a final season. However, when you factor in the unknown nature of what is going on, this in a no-brainer. We want our kids to grow into being happy and healthy adults, so protecting them is what we need to do.”
While the situation is still unfolding, it is quite possible there will either be a very limited or no spring sports season at all. Once further information is known, we will be quick to share it with you. For now, we will be hoping that the closure has its desired effect and life can return to normal for everyone in the community. In the meanwhile, we will attempt to highlight some Milford athletes, past and present, celebrating MHS’s rich athletic history.