Keep Working: College coaches share their reactions to the loss of spring sports

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — The MHSAA made it official. 2020 spring sports are canceled. This decision has an extensive impact on all levels of sports. Over the next few days, we’ll hear from athletes and coaches about how they’re coping with the loss of spring sports. Today, I spoke with coaches from ICC and NEMCC, their initial reactions, were certainly understandable.

“If they took my last year, I love baseball,” ICC Head Coach Rick Collier said. “That’d be rough I’d hate to be in their shoes.”

This spring was supposed to be Rick Collier’s 16th as head coach for ICC. The Indians got off to an 11 and 5 start and were nationally ranked before their offseason arrived early. But he’s still working, and he urges seniors who were using this season to prove they belong at the next level to do the same.

“If you don’t get picked up this year, work hard for the next year,” Collier said. “There’ll be more scholarships that come up available. Keep trying for the next couple of years, stay in shape and don’t give up on the dream.”

ICC’s softball coach Andy Kirk’s reaction to if his senior season was taken away:

“I’d really be having some really good  Q&A with my parents,” Kirk said. “I’d probably want to fail everything, so I could come back for a senior year.”

Disclosure to seniors. Don’t do that. But he did echo Coach Collier saying that they keep spots available, but filling those spots, and finding talent, it now falls on the athlete more than ever.

“There are some spots available but, they’ve got to be out there working,” Kirk said. “They’ve got to be doing video, sending us their swings, seeing them running because who knows when the next time its going to be when we can have an open tryout.”

Northeast’s softball coach Jody Long has a large incoming freshman class, he’s been in touch with all of them.

“My heart is just absolutely ripped out for those young ladies,” Long said.

This spring was the last chance for seniors to rep their school, but it was also a big time for juniors to prove to coaches like Northeast’s Coach Long that they belong at the next level.

“It’s huge in evaluating our junior class and sophomore class because this is the time of year moving into summer that you start identifying those kids,” Long said.  “Right now would have been a great time to have on campus visits with families.”

It’s a period where everyone is adjusting. There’s no playbook. No manual for this, but what you can do:

“Get your swings in, because there will be open tryouts, and don’t go into a tryout not ready,” Collier said.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear from some of those athletes who had their seasons and potentially their opportunities to play at the next level, cut short.