E.A. Sports Today

Kewpies still coming

Hickman’s school district hasn’t imposed travel restrictions over COVID-19, so baseball team still planning to play in Choccolocco Park Spring Break Experience 
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
Mason Mershon has been bringing his Hickman High Kewpies from Columbia, Mo., to the Choccolocco Park Spring Break Experience since his own high school coach clued him into it after his experience in 2017 and the trip — so far — is still on for this year.
While fears of the COVID-19 coronavirus have gripped the world and has had a profound impact on spectator sports across this country, the Columbia (Mo.) Public Schools continues to monitor the crisis but has not yet placed any restrictions on any of its activities.
As of this morning, Hickman director of athletics J.D. Coffman told East Alabama Sports Today, the Kewpies’ trip is on as scheduled.
“Right now, the Columbia Public School District, the City of Columbia, University of Missouri, all of our large organizations, are continuing to monitor the directions that this has taken, but there has been no canceled travel at this time,” Coffman said. “They’re continuing to lead that on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis. We’ll have to see what happens.
“As far as our district is concerned, we continue to promote the message of good health and the good habits the kids and the families can have, but at this point there’s no dictated restrictions from our district.”
In Alabama, although no confirmed cases of the virus have been reported, Mobile County Public Schools on Tuesday restricted all school-sponsored travel in the district to avoid areas where the illness is active.
Mershon hasn’t had any indication the Spring Break Experience has been postponed and Oxford athletics director Larry Davidson said today he hasn’t been notified of the withdrawal of any Experience participants.

Meanwhile, the Alabama High School Athletics Association is suggesting its member schools be proactive in getting their required area games played first. The AHSAA is not saying cancel obligations, just rearrange them if possible.

Locally, the spring break trips of Donoho and White Plains to Gulf Shores and Alexandria’s trip to South Alabama all remain as scheduled.

The Kewpies certainly haven’t voluntarily decided not to come to Oxford and as much as they’ve enjoyed the experience of playing some of Alabama’s best teams in the past that doesn’t seem likely to happen. Mershon was introduced to the Experience by his high school coach, Dave Wilson, who brought his Kansas City-area Staley High School team to the inaugural event in 2017.
In addition to the two Missouri teams, the event has drawn teams from Ohio and New York in the past.

“I don’t think they’ll make that decision until closer to the time,” Coffman said. “If there’s no district mandate when our spring break rolls around I would foresee the teams coming down there.”
The Kewpies open their season March 21 at home before playing in the Spring Break Experience March 23-26. They are scheduled to play Pell City and Springville at Jacksonville State March 23, and Deshler (March 24), 3A No. 1 Piedmont (March 25) and Vestavia Hills (March 26) at Choccolocco Park.
“I truly hope we get the opportunity to make the trip because we’ve spent a lot of effort into fundraising and getting our team ready and our boys look forward to going to Oxford and playing there and seeing some good competition,” Mershon told East Alabama Sports Today. “But it really just kind of comes down to our district and the decisions that are made from those who are higher up than me.
“I know there are a lot of other clubs and programs and teams that are making traveling plans during spring break. As of right now we’re still coming, but those decisions are made from higher up.”

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