By Parker Cotton
High school sports in Virginia are officially on hold until March 30, but some are preparing for an even longer wait.
Kayley DeVivi, a senior outfielder at Tunstall High School, is hopeful some part of the season can be salvaged, but she’s also resigned to the notion of potentially not playing high school softball again.
“I’m just trying to prepare for the worst to not be as distraught about it if I don’t get my season,” she said. “Because if it happens it will be a miracle from the way people were talking about it.”
High schools had begun preseason practices and scrimmages across all spring sports in previous weeks, and the first day of competition was supposed to be Monday. The Virginia High School League announced Friday the start date would be delayed at least two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam followed later on Friday with an order to close all K-12 public schools in the state until March 30, keeping pace with governors from other states carrying out similar precautionary measures.
As it stands, there has been no indication the schools will remain closed beyond that date, but DeVivi said it’s difficult to muster a positive outlook at the moment.
“I’m really not doing anything. They’ve canceled my job, no school, no softball, that’s all I really did,” she said. “It’s just very hard to sit back and see all the stuff on social media about not only our season ending, but [sports] all around the world.”
Caine DeVivi, Kayley’s father and Tunstall’s head softball coach, said he’s had preliminary conversations with the athletic director about rescheduling games originally planned during this stretch, though nothing is confirmed. And he also spoke about the necessity of maybe needing to reschedule games that were not lost to the delay.
“It’s not a situation where you can just be out of practice for two or three or four weeks and school’s back in and we can just pick right up with our schedule,” he said. “If you had three or four weeks where you can’t have any interaction with your kids, you certainly can’t just put that team back on the field on a Monday and play Monday night.”
Caine added it may be worthwhile to consider not rescheduling non-district games so as to make the most efficient use of the time remaining in the season — if it ever does restart.
“I think at this point we’re just trying to hope we can get back to it and pick up where we effectively can and move on from there,” he said. “If that means we only get 10 games, that’s better than none. If we only get six games, that’s better than none.”
For the DeVivis, this season was going to be especially meaningful because Caine plans to step down from coaching once the season ends. This was going to be his 13th and final year at Tunstall — 11th as the head coach — as well as the last year of being able to coach Kayley before she went off to play softball at Longwood.
“I was really looking forward to having this last year, seeing her continue to grow and be a leader of our team, along with some others,” he said. “Now the reality is kind of setting in that we may not be afforded that opportunity. The good part of it is, provided Kayley stays healthy, this isn’t the end of the road for her. I’ll still get to see her play in the future, it just won’t be for us at Tunstall.”
The DeVivis recognize the urgency of the situation and the precautions put in place around the country. And yet, at the same time, they are also two people, among countless others, who can’t help but think about the memories and experiences being lost as a result of this worldwide suspension of sports.
“It’s hard on all of us,” Kayley said. “It’s not as hard on me as it is [my teammates] to an extent because I will get to play again, but I can only imagine for those that don’t get to.”
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.