TIFTON — The last hope for spring athletics championships has ended in Tifton. The Georgia Independent School Association has finally called off its seasons.
Tiftarea Academy baseball coach Chance Benson confirmed the news.
“They cancelled all spring state championships,” he said. Benson wasn’t surprised by the move and appreciated the league’s effort in trying to save a last bit of glory for the high school players. “They did the right thing. They were trying, if at all possible (to play) … they just ran out of time.”
Had there not been a coronavirus and shutdown, the GISA’s baseball championships would have been held last week. A restart likely would have pushed that into mid June, long after all of its schools graduated students. Tennis and track championships were shaping up to be six weeks after their original finish dates.
Earlier this month, there was still a chance of title games happening. The league had expressed hope in an email to coaches that once Georgia Governor Brian Kemp moved on to “Phase Two” of reopening the state that plans could be made for restarting sports.
But Phase Two didn’t arrive soon enough, leaving Tiftarea’s baseball, soccer, golf, tennis and track teams without closure.
Benson did not think any of his Panthers were surprised by the news they would not get to finish out the season.
“I think the majority of the kids understood,” he said. Most baseball players are multi-sport athletes and he thinks they’ve started working towards those upcoming seasons. “I hate it for all of them. I hate it for my seniors for it to end that way because they’ve worked so hard to get to where they are.”
Tiftarea won the last two Region 3-AAA championships and were looking to make it into the state finals after two straight trips to the final four.
The last time they played together was March 13, a doubleheader at Brookwood. He’s had to rely on texts and phone calls for communication. They still are not allowed to meet in person. That lack of closure was the most difficult for him.
Benson can now start looking at the other sport he head coaches, softball. He’s optimistic about seeing those players for practice next month. Exhibitions would start in July.