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Eagle Grove decides to cancel summer sports slate

EAGLE GROVE — In a tight 3-2 vote, the Eagle Grove Community School District’s school board voted during a special session on Tuesday to cancel the Eagles’ 2020 summer sports season.

A motion not participate was confirmed by school board president Jon Rowen during the Zoom meeting, hosted by EGCSD superintendent Jess Toliver. Board members Aaron Parrott, Elaine Schope and Darren Robinson supported the cancellation. Rowen and vice president Tracy Crail voted to follow the planned schedule to play.

The decision ended weeks of careful data analysis and conscientious discussion, Eagle Grove High School activities director Richard Thacker said. A recent spike in Wright County COVID-19 cases weighed heavily against the notion of putting Eagle baseball and softball players on the field for a season that is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks.

“We’ve been working together and constantly communicating, trying to do what’s best and what’s right for our student-athletes,” Thacker said. “Initially, we were excited to have a season. We were excited to try and get life back to normal for our kids. But with more and more confirmed cases hitting closer to home over the last two weeks, it became increasingly-evident that erring on the side of caution was the prudent thing to do.

“We all wish there was better news. This was an incredibly difficult conversation to have, and a tough call for all five of our board members. We both accept and respect their (final vote), as hard as it is to face (a summer with no sports).”

Wright County confirmed 18 more positive cases on Monday, pushing its COVID-19 count to 188. A total of 1,453 individual tests have been administered.

All but 27 positive test results in Wright County — 161 total — have come in the last 13 days.

“Even making it to the game portion of the season, let alone through the entire schedule, just didn’t seem realistic,” Thacker said. “As a district, our responsibility is to look at the safety of everyone involved; not just the participants, coaches, umpires and fans from Eagle Grove, but of the teams we are inviting into our community.

“This is a real concern in Wright — much more so than many of the neighboring counties. Other schools are looking at the high density of cases and, of course, they’re somewhat hesitant abut coming here to play. We had to take that into account as well.”

Thacker added the board was “very sensitive” to the disappointment this will create in the community.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate, especially after the (cancellation of the) spring season,” Thacker said. “Kids have missed out on so much already during this stretch. I know that’s weighed heavily on all of our minds. It wasn’t (a conclusion) they came to hastily or lightly.

“We’ve reminded people this isn’t just about fatality rates. A lot of people have compromising conditions or family members who could potentially suffer either short- or long-term complications from (coronavirus). This isn’t only taking worst-case scenarios into consideration. It’s a lot more complicated than statistics on a piece of paper.”

Eagle Grove has two seniors on both its baseball (Mark Dawson and Alex Nessa) and softball (Jozey Gump and Cali Schultz) rosters for 2020.

Jordan Miller, a former Fort Dodge Senior High all-state baseball player, is the Eagles’ head baseball coach. Jim McLaughlin coaches the softball program.

Belmond-Klemme — another school district with students from Wright County — has also declined to participate in the 2020 campaign.

Iowa is attempting to become the first state in the country to have a high school sports season during the global pandemic. Practices officially started on Monday. Games are slated to begin on June 15.

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