Coaches, Players React To Cancelling of Massachusetts High School Championship Games

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There will be twice as many Massachusetts high school state champions in basketball and hockey this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of playing out the state championship basketball and hockey games scheduled for this weekend, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association canceled the games. Association officials decided that the teams who would have played in these championship bouts will be crowned co-state champions.

Coaches told New Boston Post they were disappointed with the news, but understanding of the situation.

Whitman-Hanson boys’ head coach Bob Rodgers said he fully supports the decision. His team would have faced Taconic (a regional high school in Pittsfield) over the weekend in the Division 2 title game.

“It is important that we keep sports in perspective and maintain our priorities regarding the safety of our students and the general public,” he told New Boston Post in an email message. “As far as it relates to my team, I got the news in the middle of practice and I would be lying if I didn’t admit it was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do stopping practicing and ending the season right there. The kids were devastated but they quickly gained solace in the realization of all that was accomplished.”

“Winning the final 23 games of the season and winning in the Boston Garden are memories that will last a lifetime,” he added. “I told them soon we won’t even remember the word ‘co’ and instead it will simply be the 2020 state champions.”

As Rodgers notes, the state semifinals games played between the North and South sectional champions were played earlier this week at TD Garden, the home of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins. The MIAA never officially announced a location for the championship games.

The girls’ basketball coach of Hoosac Valley (a regional high school in the western Massachusetts town of Cheshire), Ron Wojcik, said the news felt inevitable with other sports leagues suspending their seasons and canceling games.

“The coaches and team were disappointed when we found out we could not play the game, and we were actually completing a hard practice preparing for the game when the news was broke to us,” Wojcik told New Boston Post in an email message. “However, I fully understand the seriousness of the situation we are in right and the most important thing at this time is the safety of the student athletes and staff.  Based on what was happening at all levels with the NBA and NCAAs, we kind of expected it might happen this way.”

Hoosac would have faced St. Mary’s of Lynn in the Division 3 championship game.

For the Abington boys’ basketball game, the state title game would have been a shot at redemption. Abington lost in the Division 4 state title game last year and would have had a chance to avenge that loss this weekend in a game against Hopedale.

“While we respect and agree with the decision it does not make it any easier for the team,” Abington head coach Peter Serino told New Boston Post in an email message. “This group of 15 kids has worked tirelessly over the past several months, and longer, to get back to the State Championship game after losing last year. To share with the team that we would not have the opportunity to play in that game after they earned it with their hard work, sacrifice and commitment to each other was very difficult.  

“The State Championship game was not going to define this team,” he added. “They are defined by the character that they showed throughout the season and how they saw adversity as a challenge and an opportunity to grow together and become better. We are proud to be State Champions.”

Arlington boys’ head coach John Messuri admitted the news was upsetting for his team. His team would have faced Pope Francis in the Division 1A championship game.

“Man I hope these health experts are right I got twenty five kids sobbing at practice,” he tweeted.


For hockey players, this means they will not have the opportunity to play this year at TD Garden.

As a result, many were devastated to hear the news. On social media, some players said they disagreed with the MIAA’s decision.

Jackie Lees, a senior forward and defender on the Woburn girls’ hockey team, would have played against Austin Prep (of Reading) in the Division 1 championship at the Garden. 

She tweeted at the MIAA, “please don’t cancel it. my team has worked so hard to get to where we are. We need to finish what we started. Also my last game can’t be me getting taken out in an ambulance. Please re think this decision.”


Her teammate, freshman forward Katie Pica wrote, “Can’t we just make the game with no fans. We have worked so hard to get here, please don’t take it away.”

On the boys side, Ryan Larvey disagreed with the decision. Larvey, a junior forward on the Hanover boys’ hockey team, would have faced Longmeadow in the Division 3 championship.

“Move it to gallo,” he tweeted, in reference to Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne on Cape Cod.

The MIAA also pushed back the start of its spring sports season to Monday, March 30. Prior to the move, it was supposed to start on Monday, March 16.

Across the state, youth sports programs are pushing back the start of their seasons. The South Coast Soccer League, for instance, which includes the South Coast of Massachusetts and Cape Cod, announce on Friday, March 13 that its spring travel soccer program now won’t start even practices before April 15, which is significantly later than usual.