The home baseball dugout at Gardiner Area High School was empty Wednesday — and it could be for some time, too. The Maine Principals’ Association is set to meet Thursday morning to discuss canceling the spring sports season. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

This sucks.

Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. If you’re looking for elaboration, some attempts at pearls of wisdom, some effort at optimism or a silver lining, it’s not coming. Not today.

This sucks. Fine, I will elaborate. This really sucks.


The spring sports season is officially dead. The Maine Principals’ Association met and delivered the coup de grâce Thursday, making the entire spring schedule, championship season and what were certain to be lifelong memories for hundreds of athletes more victims of this insidious virus.

Athletes should have been practicing by now, on their fields. In mild weather. This was supposed to be one of the best springs in years. Instead, it’s the worst moment in high school sports that any of us can remember.

I’m angry. I’m sad. And I don’t even play the games. I just watch them, write about them and enjoy telling the stories. The kids who play these sports, the coaches who teach them, those people who were looking forward all year to having this season? Those are the ones I feel bad for, that we should all feel awful for. Everyone’s getting robbed. The seniors in particular, however? They’re getting ripped off.

“They’re not going to finish their senior year of classes with their friends,” Messalonskee baseball coach Ray Bernier said. “They don’t get to (go to) prom and everything, they don’t get to have the senior season. It’s horrible.”

This. Freaking. Sucks.

The closest thing to a bright side — and this is pretty far from a bright side — is that there’s no one to blame here. Not in Maine, anyway. Can’t blame the Department of Education for suggesting that schools shut their doors. Can’t blame the MPA for following suit and making the tough call to pull the plug on the season. Can’t blame anyone who rightly points out over and over again that safety has to come first.

Can’t blame anyone but the coronavirus — which, just for a few minutes, I’d like to see manifest itself into a physical, visible-to-the-naked-eye form so I can beat it with one of the baseball bats that won’t be used this season.

I told you. I’m mad.

The sadness, though, is the primary emotion. I’ve talked with dozens of players and coaches since the start of the season was delayed back in March, and I thought back to those moments as this verdict was getting closer and closer. I thought of Cony baseball coach Don Plourde, his voice catching as he described how happy he was to be able to touch base with his players when the hands-off period was lifted. I thought of Winthrop girls tennis coach Jess Merrill, who started our call with a long sigh as she once again had to confront the finality of a canceled season.

It hurt most, though, to think back to someone like Messalonskee softball catcher Brooke Martin, whom I spoke to the day the season was delayed, and whose optimism stood out on what was a dark, disappointing afternoon.

“We’ll battle through it, it’ll be fine,” she said. “It’ll come. Whether it’s the end of April or the start of May, we’ll get on the field. We’re not wicked worried yet. … We’re trying to keep the positive attitude. It will happen. We’ll be able to play.”

Reading those words now, it’s enough to make your heart sink.

I hoped it wouldn’t happen. I talked myself into believing that a lot could happen in a month’s time, and that the world could look a lot better by late April than it did in late March.

But the rising pessimism was palpable. In phone interviews I felt more like a counselor than a reporter. The Q and As often gave way to both of us talking about how much we hoped the season could somehow survive. It isn’t fun to hear hope start to fade.

Now the hope is gone. The spring is over. Perhaps it had to happen. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

This sucks. I wish there was a better way to put it.

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