There has been a whirlwind of emotions for many players, athletes and coaches throughout Arizona over the past few days after the AIA Executive Board passed a 5-4 vote on Friday to cancel the winter season for high school sports.
However, after a lot of pushback and pressure from the public not in support of this ruling, the board came together once again on Tuesday to hold another meeting, in which there was a motion to reconsider the cancelation. Board member Jim Love flipped his vote from no to yes, passing the 5-4 vote to reinstate the winter season, which will start on January 18th.
Drew Zurek, who is a father of two athletes that attend Casteel High School, is happy with the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting.
“There was disappointment with the fact that all of the work and effort that my kids would put in for the opportunity to participate in play with their school and their classmates might not happen this year,” Zurek said. “But then, obviously with today’s outcome, it was extremely positive. My kids are excited, and they’re looking forward to the opportunity to play and to participate and just get the opportunity to compete.”
Zurek’s daughter, Kyah, runs cross country at Casteel and was preparing for her upcoming soccer season while his son, Caden, plays basketball for the Colts. When it was announced that the season would be canceled, there was a bit of uncertainty on what to do next.
For Kyah, she would’ve immediately transitioned to her club team, which is popular among soccer players. However, for Caden, it was a bit different and there was a lot of gray area on what to do next with possibilities of teams going through ABCA.
Zurek was proud of how positive the coaches at Casteel stayed throughout the situation for their athletes.
“They continued to maintain that positive environment saying, ‘we’re gonna keep practicing because there’s still an opportunity and chance that we’re gonna play,’” Zurek said. “That made it a little bit easier for my wife and I, simply because the coaches maintain such a positive attitude about the situation and weren’t necessarily closing the door on the opportunity to compete.”
During the meeting, board members were able to express their views on why they were voting a certain way. Zurek understood the pressure that the board members were under and acknowledged the tough situation that they were in.
Board member Dr. Camille Casteel expressed the benefits that athletes get when they are able to compete and how important athletics are for student experience, which was something that stuck with Zurek following the meeting.
“They (the board members) are extremely tough,” Zurek said. “I was extremely happy to see them come around, and in my opinion, make the right decision to give these kids the opportunity to compete, and we’re excited about it.”