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Covid-19 Shutting Down Games, Infecting Players In Coral Springs and Broward School Sports



Coral Springs, Florida – This fall, the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on sports programs in Coral Springs and other Broward County schools, forcing teams to cancel games and leading to “triple-digit” infection cases.

And the upcoming high school sports seasons aren’t looking much better.

That’s the assessment of Shawn Cerra, Broward County Public Schools director of athletics and student activities. He is also a Coral Springs city commissioner.

Case and point: in Coral Springs earlier this week, a city championship football game between Coral Springs and Coral Glades high schools was abruptly canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus.

“It has been an incredibly challenging past eight months,” Cerra said in a recent interview. “When we started this in mid-March, I never dreamed that we would be carrying this into 2021.”

Cerra said the school district has a health advisory board that meets weekly “to really guide us through protocols and procedures of what we should expect and what we can do in advance to keep the kids as safe as we can.”

In the fast swings of the virus, schools and their sports teams have had to be prepared to make adjustments on a moment’s notice as evidenced by the Thursday night football game cancellation in Coral Springs.

As late as 2 p.m., the 7 p.m. kickoff was still in place and then Coral Springs High School had a player come back with a positive trace and the game was off.

“It broke my heart not to see them put on their jersey for one last time,” said Coral Glades High School coach Cam Thomas, whose team finished with a winning season at 4-3 and made the postseason for the first time in the 16-year history of the school. “I love those young men and am very proud of what they have accomplished.”

No matter how hard the county tries to keep student-athletes safe, Cerra believes many of the cases are being contracted at parties in the community and functions not related to school.

“When they are at school, they are listening and doing what we are asking them to do,” Cerra said. “The challenge we have as a school district is, we know what they are doing during the school hours, we don’t know what they are doing the rest of the time. We can stress education and the importance of doing the right thing, but ultimately they have to dig deep and want it as badly as the person next to them.”

It was also a difficult decision to pull teams from the Florida High School Athletic Association state championship series. Last spring, all the sports were shut down after playing just a couple of weeks.

Cerra said despite attempts to align with the state to get the teams into the state competitions, “they had to get creative.”

Broward, Palm Beach, and most Miami-Dade county public schools did not play in the state series this fall, instead opting for a tri-county competition. Playing a reduced schedule, with a later start date of Dec. 14 for practicing, schools will be allowed to play in the winter state championships.

“Ultimately, you have to look at the bigger issue and that is we are in the midst of a pandemic,” Cerra said. “These kids are all happy and smiling to have county and tri-county championships. Hopefully, they have a memory and a great takeaway from the season.”

Coral Springs High School bowling coach Rickey Samuels put together a coed squad this year and said they were able to make it through Covid-19. The bowling team won the county title over Coral Springs Charter School and then flipped positions in the tri-county event a week later.

“We made it our goal to finish this year,” Samuels said. “We had a young team last year, but we thought we had a team that could have competed at the state tournament. We weren’t able to do that because of Covid.

“It would have been nice to go to states, and we are a little disappointed, but it is what it is,” Samuels said. “We are happy with what is going on.”

Samuels said it was difficult to have to navigate through the pandemic. They didn’t start the season until October and finished in early December.

“We had to wait until we got the all-clear from the school,” Samuels said. “Once we got clearance, we got on the lanes right away. We didn’t have a start date, but at least we were able to get into gear.”

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