BLUFFTON, S.C. (WTOC) - As sporting events worldwide are canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus, Bluffton High School was an exception today.
The Bluffton Bobcats softball team got swept today in their double-header, but the score isn’t the story today. The story is that either game was played at all.
Amid a global pandemic, it was a normal day at the ballpark at Bluffton High.
There were fans, the grill was fired up, and the players and coaches were ready to go.
“We’re not concerned,” said Jennifer Ray, a softball parent.
Bluffton High School's Athletic Director Cody Slaughter said whether or not to play wasn't a question.
“Not necessarily a hard decision, because the people that govern us really didn’t cancel sports for high schools right now, so as long as they’re going to allow us to play, we’re going to give our kids the chance to keep playing. That’s what they do sports for, so we really just want to make sure that they get the opportunity to keep playing as long as possible," he explained. "We haven’t cancelled any sports, and we haven’t really done anything to our schedules yet, so as long as they’re going to let us play, we’re going to continue to play.”
The athletic department has fielded questions from concerned parents. They even had to sign permission slips for the Bobcats’ Friday away game, but for the most part, they’re on board.
“Our family trusts Beaufort County School District and our town and county leadership and the schools to make the best decisions for our kids,” Ray added.
The department has taken extra precautions like wiping down the buses, and practicing sanitary habits in the dugouts.
Head Coach William Rose said he has retired from the U.S. Army, but never expected to deal with something like this as a high school softball coach.
“You always fear having deployed that this is something we might have faced over there, but never something like quarantining or stopping sports like this state-side where I didn’t ever think or imagine this would happen, but it just throws another little obstacle in it and, you know, trying to be more resilient as a coach, and keeping the kids positive to move forward.”
Between games, the team took some time to recognize their four seniors in an impromptu ceremony in case the remainder of their season gets cancelled.
Rose says his message to the team was simple: enjoy today.
“This may very well be the last time they step on the field, and just to enjoy the moment with each other, with the family that we’re creating here, the camraderie... because they may not be playing at the next level and just go out there and seize this moment and have fun and just leave it all out there.”
“It’s sad," said senior Jesalynn Wagner. "Just trying to take in this last moment in case it is one of our last games.”
For the time being ... the decision is looming ... leaving uncertainty for athletes across South Carolina.
“Unfortunately, you know, what we hear is that it may shut down,” Rose added.
Everyone agrees that health and safety are the priority, but sports can be an escape- even a family.
Whatever happens, the Bobcats say they will get through it together.
The South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) decision on whether or not to continue playing sports is set to be made Monday, March 16 on a superintendent’s conference call at 1:00 p.m.