UIL cancels all sporting events for remainder of school year

Coppell+senior+captain+Maxwell+Winneker+is+one+of+many+athletes+who+saw+their+seasons+canceled+for+the+remainder+of+the+school+year.+The+University+Interscholastic+League+%28UIL%29+announced+the+cancellation+of+all+UIL-sanctioned+activities+on+Friday+following+Gov.+Greg+Abbott%E2%80%99s+decision+to+close+schools+for+the+rest+of+the+semester.+Photo+illustration+by+Shriya+Vanparia+and+Sally+Parampottil

Shriya Vanparia

Coppell senior captain Maxwell Winneker is one of many athletes who saw their seasons canceled for the remainder of the school year. The University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced the cancellation of all UIL-sanctioned activities on Friday following Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to close schools for the rest of the semester. Photo illustration by Shriya Vanparia and Sally Parampottil

Sally Parampottil, Executive Sports Editor

The Coppell boys soccer team was in the midst of a great comeback story, turning a 1-4-2 record into a six-match win streak in which it took down the No. 1 ranked team in Class 6A and tied for second place in District 6-6A. 

With one district match remaining, the Cowboys had high hopes of making state playoffs. 

That playoff run will not happen. 

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced on Friday that all UIL activities and championships are canceled, following Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to close schools for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19. Coppell sports affected include boys and girls soccer, track and field, golf, tennis, baseball and softball. 

“Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in the UIL press release on Friday. “Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-2021 school year.” 

While the announcement is sad for most, it does not come as a surprise for many. Despite the UIL’s repeated emphasis on its commitment to allow competition if possible, many other sports organizations had already canceled their seasons. 

“I believe we were all speculating that this was going to be the case but all had to wait from the official word from UIL,” Coppell boys soccer coach James Balcom said via email. “UIL has said all along that they would do everything they could to try to finish out seasons.  But, with schools getting canceled for the year, UIL had to do the same.” 

Coppell boys and girls soccer each had one match left (Senior Night for the Cowgirls) before district certification and playoffs. The tournament-style sports (track and field, golf and tennis) had not played their district tournaments. Softball was only one game into its District 6-6A season, while baseball had yet to begin its own. 

“Players, especially the seniors, are taking it kind of rough,” Balcom said. “I think one of the hardest things to accept is that there is no real closure on this season. This group is talented and hard-working enough to make a run to the state tournament but not even getting the opportunity is very difficult to accept.”  

For the seniors, it means that they are officially done. They will never get to compete again as a Coppell Cowboy.”

— Coppell coach Karl Pointer

The UIL originally suspended competition and practices through March 29, which was later changed to May 4. 

“From the start, I was assuming we wouldn’t run again,” Coppell senior track runner Tyler Felton said. “As it went on, it got more and more real, but in order to not be depressed when it hit, I started thinking ahead of time that [the season] probably would [get canceled] so I could get myself ready for it.”

Felton, who has been in track for three years, will not continue running in college. 

“Definitely as a senior, it sucks because we’re not going to have another season,” Felton said. “For the juniors and sophomores, they still have another year or two, which is good for them because they’ll still have more opportunities to improve and do better. For us, it kind of sucks because we’re done.” 

While many senior athletes, such as Felton, face their athletic careers ending with UIL’s announcement, even athletes who aspire to compete in college are seeing changes with the recruiting process. Those who were aiming for improvements will now no longer have the chance to do so. 

“For the seniors, it means that they are officially done. They will never get to compete again as a Coppell Cowboy,” Coppell boys track and field coach Karl Pointer said via email. “For the recruiting process, most of our seniors that were going to compete in college had already either committed or are still in contact with the schools they are planning on attending.” 

Athletes will continue to be given workouts at home from coaches through online learning methods. For underclassmen, the dream of competing will have to wait for next year. 

“I think for our returning athletes, they will truly understand that it can end in a blink of an eye,” Pointer said. “I think they will have a deeper understanding of working hard and not wasting a day.”

Follow Sally (@sparampottil) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.