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HS Insider: How the COVID-19 pandemic 'changed the course of everything'

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Posted at 3:35 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 15:35:49-05
Listen to the special episode of the High School Insider podcast in the player above.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted over 350,000 Ohio student-athletes this school year.

This week marks a year since the coronavirus outbreak postponed the remaining winter high school sports tournaments on March 12, 2020.

Those tournaments were later canceled, along with the entire Ohio High School Athletic Association spring sports season.

"We say it all the time -- that high school sports are about more than wins and losses," said Tim Stried, OHSAA senior director of communications. "But when it's taken away from you like that our schools and our communities and everybody learn how true that is."

This WCPO High School Insider podcast delves into personal reflections from more than a dozen individuals who have grappled with the impact of the pandemic within the high school sports community since March 2020.

You'll hear from people like Mount Notre Dame assistant athletic director Keith Schenkel, who stayed overnight in a Grove City hotel in order to pick up tournament tickets early at St. John Arena -- tickets that would never be used.

MND player Makira Cook reflected on the undefeated season and her favorite moments with teammates through her Snapchat Memories.

"I think I pretty much turned the page but it's still like what could've been," Cook said.

Former OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass describes his recollection of a season-altering conference phone call with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Paolo DeMaria, the state superintendent of schools, and then-state health director Dr. Amy Acton.

"I am very emotional about it to this day," Snodgrass said. "I will never forget it as long as I live."

You'll also hear what happened with the unused state championship trophies from the remaining winter tournaments.

"To this day it's very haunting to recall and just think about the opportunity lost for the kids," said OHSAA wrestling administrator Tyler Brooks.

And you'll hear from Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted about the conversations the governor's office had with the state health department and OHSAA about the importance of having a timeline for completing fall state championships before Thanksgiving.

"I remember there was a Sunday afternoon that Governor DeWine was on the phone with some of the leading health experts on this and they said, 'Look, when we get to October, November and December -- this is going to get bad again.' It's going to be hard. And I relayed that conversation to the folks at the Ohio High School Athletic Association and I encouraged them. I said, 'Look, let's shorten the (football) regular season. Let's get the playoffs started. Because if you can get them in a little bit earlier then you have a better chance of being able to complete it, complete the season with the least amount of disruption and the best health outcomes.'"

Listen to this special episode in the player above.

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