DES MOINES, Iowa — As Des Moines Public Schools learned fall sports would be put on hold because of return to learn plans being 100% online, their metro opponents this Friday had to act quickly.
“I do feel bad for the kids. That’s really what I feel bad for because they don’t have a say in this matter. They just want to play,” said Indianola High School Activities Director Lee Nelson.
Indianola’s home football game on Sept. 11 against Lincoln had been canceled, then Nelson saw Western Dubuque High School’s opponent canceled because of a coronavirus breakout. Nelson said, “I saw it on social media. Then you are in scramble mode, so Friday night you grab your computer and try to make contacts with anybody that may not have a game.”
An Indianola home game between the schools was agreed to on Sunday. Western Dubuque will travel the 200 or so miles to Indianola, but the Indians’ last home game is still in jeopardy. “We needed a home game. We have two home games this week and next week which right now is scheduled against Roosevelt,” Nelson said.
Southeast Polk High School is also playing musical chairs with their schedule as their opponent, Des Moines East, can no longer play. “You are just going to have to take it day by day and sometimes hour by hour,” said SEP Activities Director Jayson Campbell.
Campbell thought he had a replacement game from an out-of-state high school. “We got really serious with Bellevue West out of Omaha, but it was a situation where their administration didn’t want them to travel to Polk County because they considered it a hot spot,” Campbell said.
Southeast Polk was planning for an away game against Des Moines East at Williams Stadium just eight miles away, but because of the cancelation Tuesday morning, a deal was made with Cedar Rapids Jefferson 110 miles northeast at Kingston Stadium this Friday. “We were scheduled to be on the road. Obviously five miles versus two hours is a big difference, but we are thankful to have a game,” said Campbell.
Campbell is also worried about a future swim meet where they have invited Lincoln with a unique roster. “Somebody like Lincoln has a cooperative sharing agreement [with] kids from Norwalk and Carlisle. So just trying to figure that out if those kids will continue to swim and they’ll have a team or not.”
With plenty of uncertainty, these trying times have proven to everyone not to take sports for granted. Campbell said, “Take it day by day and appreciate what you have right now because nothing is a given at this point.”