The conversation regarding COVID-19 has been tough, but recently it took a whole new turn as both the IGHSAU and IHSAA announced the cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season.
In light of the negative conversation surrounding the pandemic, the Iowa High School Athletic Directors Association has created a movement called Light Up Your Stadiums. Until what would be the conclusion of the school season, sports stadiums across the Iowa high school landscape will have their lights on Friday nights, now beginning at 8:20 p.m. They will be on one minute for every day of school missed and this week, several Dallas County area schools will be involved. Both ADM and Dallas Center-Grimes, along with Waukee High School, have gotten into the mix.
“I think this is a really powerful message that can be sent by simply turning on the lights,” began ADM head football coach Garrison Carter. “We feel for our spring sports athletes missing their sports seasons right now. I believe in our community, our kids, and our country. We are going to emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.”
In light of the recent school closure and the spring sports season closure for 2020, area coaches said such a simple act holds a strong message.
“It’s a difficult time for all of us and our hearts go out to the spring sports athletes who unfortunately witnessed their seasons come to a close,” Waukee boys head tennis coach Eric Wetzel said.
“The school is such a focal point in many communities and the fact that even for the short few minutes, it provides a message that we’re still here,” Dallas Center-Grimes head football coach Scott Heitland added. “For a lot of these students and teachers, school is such an important part of who they are. With that, an event like this is more important than ever before because the lights mean that we’re thinking of you. It still helps people stay connected to things that they haven’t been connected to for a month or won’t be connected to for a while yet.”
Roughly 100 schools were involved in the initial week of the movement, a movement that DC-G activities director Brent Buttjer mentioned reaches far beyond just the past and present, but well into the future. It also extends beyond just one sport.
“The lights being on impact a lot of things,” Buttjer said. “It provides us hope. Hope that the summer seasons will go on and hope that things will return back to normal soon. To me, that’s what the lights provide. The lights provide just that, a light. Things will calm down and things will get better.”
Light at the end of the tunnel has been one of the many rallying cries that has sprung up from those looking to the future and what it might bring. The future is what nearly every athlete now has to hold on to but as ADM activities director Larry Moklestad mentioned, it’s not a path any one person has to walk alone
“It’s a show of all schools unity during this most difficult time,” said Moklestad. “Plus the fact that we all miss sports and the interactions we are missing with all of our students.”
Overall, recent news has put a somber note on high school activities in the state of Iowa and while it’s a time to mourn, it’s also a time to reflect on the possible lessons on hand.
“It will be an extremely special moment once we get back into sports but right now I really think there’s something to take away from all of this,” said Buttjer. “There’s a reason why on the 10 o’clock news it’s news, weather, and sports. Sports are very important to our culture and I think from this in that there are some sportsmanship things that will come from this. I do think there will be a whole new appreciation of sports, how it impacts our lives, and how we shouldn’t take it for granted.”