Although Okaloosa County schools are getting back on schedule somewhat with an online learning model beginning March 30, sporting activities can’t be done over the internet.
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Most of the athletic activities at Destin Middle School were only a couple of weeks into their schedule when spring break happened, and then the coronavirus.
With schools now out until at least April 15, that leaves the baseball and softball teams with only one game left to play before they enter their playoffs.
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The track team has a meet on the schedule for April 15 and one more on April 22 before the county championships.
Tennis and golf as well will be losing matches.
Will games and matches be rescheduled?
“No decisions have been made ... we are in a wait and see situation right now,” said Destin Middle athletic director Ron Griffths.
Griffiths said if the students are back in school by mid-April a decision will be made either to extend the season or pick up on the schedule where it is at that point in time.
“I hate it for all our athletes,” Griffiths said, but especially for the eighth graders that might not get the chance to suit up in a Destin Marlin uniform again.
Baseball Coach Matt Cawthon agreed.
“It is very sad for all of our guys. It is tough on all of them, especially the eighth graders. They have put in a lot of hard work and to not get but half of the season is frustrating,” Cawthon said. “Obviously the health and well being come first. You just hope it all gets back to normal sooner than later.
“Thinking about the mental health of these kids having a 180 degree change in their social life comes to mind,” he added. “I hope and pray that we all can grow from this. It definitely makes you appreciate the simple things in life and a normal routine.”
Most of the girls on the softball team are trying to keep to some kind of normalcy.
“I know for a fact my girls are practicing at home,” said Marlin softball coach Kati O’Brian.
The girls are sending her copies of their workouts and parents are posting videos on social media of them practicing.
“I’m very proud of my girls for their display of self discipline and putting forth efforts on a daily basis to better themselves as athletes. They know it is up to them to stay diligent and continue to grow,” O’Brian said.
“It’s been tough on us coaches and the girls to not be able to get together as a team. We are a very tight knit group and thrive on connecting with one another. But they are all remaining positive and staying in contact with one another,” she added. “But truthfully, everything is up in the air right now. We don’t know how COVID-19 will continually affect our season.”
As for the track and field team they had only had one scrimmage with Emerald Coast Middle with the meat of their season coming in April.
“It’s weird, we had some kids that were rounding into pretty decent track athletes. But it just kind of abruptly stopped,” said Marlin track coach Demetris Stevens.
“The throwers were getting closer to proper positioning and technique. A few sprinters had a chance at being special. It’s odd to have kids put that type of time in and not see how far they could go compared to past years,” Stevens said.
Unlike the other middle school sports, track and field athletes have a chance to advance to another level, qualify for state competition.
"But, their safety and health is more important,“ Stevens said.
Tennis and golf are also up in the air.
Coach Brett Chipser of the tennis team said he hopes and prays when the schools open back up “we can pick up tennis then.”
But first and foremost, safety first.
“It’s unfortunate ... because (the athletes and coaches) want to finish what they started,” Griffiths said. “We wish things were different ... but we’re making the best of it.”