The FHSAA has suspended all athletic events indefinitely.
Members of the Riverview High girls lacrosse team were on the beach when they heard.
They were prepared for it, in some respects. Their coach, Ashley McLeod, had warned them earlier on the morning of March 13 it might happen. Still, senior Lily Dougherty said, there's no preparing for actually hearing that kind of news.
Sports in Sarasota County Schools, and in all Florida school districts, have been shut down indefinitely because of COVID-19 concerns. The Florida High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday that it was halting all athletic events indefinitely, matching the state directive. The FHSAA said if school are open by April 15, the organization will reevaluate things.
"It is a big disappointment," Dougherty said. "We were just starting to gel as a team. We were getting to know each other and playing well. It just sucks.
"If I think about it too much, I will break down crying. I have been on this team since my freshman year, hoping to get to have a Senior Night and to play in a district final. It makes me upset thinking about those things not happening."
Dougherty said teammates such as freshman Camille Johnson and sophomore Allison Housh have offered to host a makeshift Senior Night at some point if an official one is not an option, one reason why Dougherty loves her teammates so much. Dougherty, who plays for Riverview but attends Pine View School, said being around her teammates has always been her favorite part of playing lacrosse. Doughery said the game has brought her many friends she likely would never have met otherwise.
She isn't ready to say goodbye. Dougherty, one of the team's defensemen, said that while coaches cannot organize any team practices, the Rams' players have been using Facetime to connect with each other for daily morning workouts in their own homes. It feels strange, she said, without physical proximity to her teammates, but it's better than nothing.
Besides, she said, the Rams, who were 4-1 at the time of the shutdown, have to stay ready in case the season begins again. The Rams are led offensively by Johnson, who has 25 goals in her first five varsity games, and senior Gabriella Connelly, who is second in program history with 76 goals and 98 total points, The team also has a strong midfield led by senior Hannah Boggs.
"If we get to play, we are coming for that district title," Dougherty said.
Megan Caron is a senior rower with Sarasota Crew. While the Crew is not subject to any school district athletics shutdowns, the organization has suspended things on its own. The organization has postponed all of its regattas indefinitely, and Caron said going forward, as of March 16, the Crew is only holding optional practices with limited space available. Rowers have to sign up if they want a slot. Even those practices are limited to work on the erg machines (indoor rowing) or in individual boats, with no team boats allowed.
Caron is attending Florida State next year as a student, not a student-athlete. This season was going to be her last hurrah. Instead, it has turned into a disappointment.
"It would be devastating to lose this season," Caron said. "I started rowing with the Crew four years ago. Senior year is what everyone waits to experience. We have a great team. We were looking forward to the state meet, which we have won nine years in a row. We wanted to be the ones to make it 10.
"If it was up to me, I would want to keep racing. I want to have those memories when it's all over."
It's not only high school games affected by COVID-19. USRowing announced that the 2020 Olympic Team Trials I, scheduled for March 17-21 at Nathan Benderson Park, were postponed at least 30 days, retroactive to March 13. This also means the 2020 Olympic Team Trials II, which involves Olympic and Paralympic events, scheduled for April 13-17, are still on as of now. Update: The Team Trials II have also been postponed.
Brett Johnson, a representative of USRowing, said the situation is fluid. Johnson said he could not guarantee the first set of trials would remain at the park whenever they are resumed. Johnson said the organization will talk about the situation with its officials and its athletes, and make another announcement soon. The World Rowing Federation is expected to make an announcement about updated Olympic qualifying procedures on March 17, and Johnson said USRowing will factor that information into its own decision making.
The International Triathlon Union World Cup race, scheduled for March 14 at Nathan Benderson Park, was postponed indefinitely as well.
Recreational sports leagues like SoCo Club Sport have also postponed — not canceled — their seasons indefinitely, and Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources has suspended all organized use of its facilities through at least April 12. Its indoor facilities will be completely closed during that time, though its outdoor facilities will remain open to the public for individual use.