The cry of “Play ball!” will soon be heard in Independence.
The Independence School District announced Friday morning that Truman, Chrisman and Van Horn high schools will participate in a series of sporting events, with practices beginning June 15.
The three Independence high schools will play each other in baseball, girls soccer and track and field. Truman and Chrisman will also compete in tennis and golf, as Van Horn does not have golf or tennis teams.
“When we come back to school for practices June 15, we will also begin practicing for those events,” William Chrisman activities director Greg McGhee said. “We’re really going to emphasize conditioning over the two weeks before we begin playing because it would be so bad to see a player get injured preparing for something they love.”
The practices will be limited to players and coaches only, with no fans allowed to watch. Each coach and player will have his or her temperature taken for precautionary measures, and larger teams, like track and field, will be placed in groups that align with the city and state guidelines when they begin. The players and coaches have the option to wear a mask.
The number of fans who will be allowed to watch the respective games and events will be determined to follow the mandated guidelines.
Jay Kolster, the longtime baseball coach at Van Horn, said he and his staff can’t wait to get going.
“The talks have been going on quite a while, with the city, county and state guidelines, because we want to do this right,” he said. “While all athletes will be able to participate in their respective activities, I see this as a way to honor our seniors.
“While we’re going to be looking at the bubble players (players who are on the verge of making a varsity team) and evaluating their chances of making a team, we’re letting our seniors play their last time for their high school, and that is so special.
“My coaching staff has been together the last eight years, and when I talked to the guys about coming back June 15 and starting to play two weeks later they were all on board. Some might have other things on their calendars, and they said to a man, ‘We’re there.’ That’s how much it means to all of us.”
Truman, Chrisman and Van Horn’s baseball teams will all play each other at their usual respective home fields – with Truman and Chrisman playing on site and Van Horn hosting at Roper Stadium in Sugar Creek.
The tentative dates for the baseball games are June 27 at Chrisman, June 29 at Truman and July 1 at Roper Park. Other times and dates will be announced soon.
The soccer games will be played at their respective home fields and the track and field meet will be held at William Chrisman’s facility.
The golf match between Truman and Chrisman will be held tentatively at Drumm Farm Golf Club and the tennis match will take place at Santa Fe Trail Park.
“It was so much fun to call each of our coaches to tell them that they were going to be able to have their kids participate in events this summer,” Truman activities director Daniel Bieser said. “We’re hoping it will provide some type of closure for all the kids, especially the seniors, who have missed out on so much this spring.”
Van Horn activities director Chris Corrie is happy to give his athletes an opportunity to get on the field after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the spring high school sports season.
“I’m so thrilled and excited for our seniors, our coaches and all our kids who will participate in these games,” Corrie said. “When I talked with our coaches, I could feel their excitement, and that got me pumped up.
“Now we have to wait for June 15 to begin practicing and getting ready for each of these events. I can’t even imagine the emotion of seeing these young men and women going back to doing what they love. It will really be special.”