Sports Cancelled, Temporarily


Courtesy Southeast Football

Football players console each other following their final practice after fall sports were cancelled by the district.

Alicia Harper, Reporter

For three months the student athletes in Wichita were conditioning and practicing for the upcoming fall season. On Aug. 24, the Board of Education decided it was unsafe for students to participate in any school related activities.

The fall season was just getting started when the board of education considered whether or not students would attend school entirely online, onsite or a mixture of the two. The decision was based on the “Future Ready Return to School Plan” model, which was a guideline for public school restrictions depending on the amount of active COVID cases in Wichita. The board voted to have elementary students attend classes in person and for secondary students to do online learning.

“I felt disappointed because if the other school districts around can have their sports, we’re in the same county, and so I was a little confused as to why maybe we couldn’t,” cheer coach Katie Flickinger said.

Many USD 259 athletes were bitter about the decision since schools like Derby, Kapaun, Collegiate and others not only got to attend classes in person, but they got to keep their sports and extracurricular activities.

“It’s frustrating to see schools that are like a mile down the road and they’re playing and have limited fans at the game and everything’s good to go and then you just see us. We’re the only ones not playing and it’s tough to understand why can’t we do that if everyone else in the area is playing,” head football coach Taylor Counts said.

After the board’s decision, two protests were organized, one at Northwest and another one at North High. Hundreds of people attended the protests to show what their sport means to them and to support the cause of bringing back sports.

For some athletes, playing sports was their only sense of normalcy during these times. 

“We knew school was going to be cancelled, we were doing online but sports was kind of the only thing that was a sense of normal in our life and we could be with people,” Jr. cross country athlete Annabelle Merten said.

For some it was their motivational factor for school, a way at obtaining scholarships or simply a way to get out of their household.

“I was upset because I wanted to play football. It gave me something to do and let me be surrounded in an environment where people have my back like I knew if they cancelled football that we weren’t going to go back to school,” Jr. football player Amir Marks said.

“After my dad died, sports became my saving grace. When my world was crashing, sports were my only outlet at the time. I would not be the person I am today without them. I wouldn’t have the upcoming opportunities such as scholarships if it wasn’t for my athletic capabilities,” Jr. cheerleader and golfer Mallory Floyd said.

A couple weeks after the initial cancellation, the board reevaluated their motion and reversed their decision. 

“I was able to finally be active again after being in a drought from physical activity. My motivation for both sports and school increased and I was able to enjoy it better. I am looking forward to what my senior season has to come,” Sr. tennis player Katelyn Jamoul said.

“When I found out that fall sports were back in action, I was filled with determination because our season was gifted back to us. I have to make the most out of the season because you never know if the season would get cancelled again,” Jr. soccer player Kevin Phitsanu said.

Although it is not known yet what will happen with winter sports and activities, for now, athletes will get to have some sense of normalcy in their lives.