Like thousands of other high school athletes across the state, Emi Curcio is hoping she can get back on the field and have a spring sports season.
Right now, every school district and every spring sports team in the Commonwealth is in a holding pattern after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered school closings through March 27, and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association placed all athletes and teams in a two-week hiatus period over coronavirus concerns.
No practice. No games. No school. No nothing.
During the shutdown, Curcio wants the PIAA to know that she and thousands of other athletes across the state are hoping for a return to normalcy — and especially a return to athletic competition — as soon as possible.
Curcio is a senior at Frazier High School in Perryopolis, about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh in Fayette County. The Commodores, who compete in District Seven — the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (WPIAL) — are the reigning PIAA Class 2A state softball champs. Curcio is a key member on that club.
Her plea: Please don't cancel our season.
Late last week Curcio created an online petition where athletes, coaches, fans and community members can digitally sign for the support of having some sort of spring sports season once the governor and PIAA lift the mandates.
“I’d like the PIAA to see it, sure,” Curcio told LNP | LancasterOnline on Sunday. “We want to make sure they see that we all really want our seasons to continue. We also know that they’re going to put the best measures in place so that everyone is protected from the coronavirus, and that they will have the final decision with what happens. We know that.”
“I’m not expecting to hear from the PIAA,” she added. “But we wanted to let them know that we have a voice.”
The online petition went live last Friday night, and just a few hours later, there were about 100 digital signatures. By Saturday morning, there were more than 2,000 digital signatures. The goal listed on the online petition is for 50,000 digital signatures.
By noon on Sunday, the digital signature count was at 45,000. Curcio said there were digital signatures and comments from supporters in Fleetwood in Berks County in District Three and from North Penn in District One in suburban Philadelphia.
You can view Curcio's online petition here.
“I certainly didn’t expect that many,” Curcio said. “I’m glad people are supporting it. Sports are so important to kids, and especially to the seniors, who really want to play one last season this spring. Nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen. In two weeks, things could be completely different for everybody. We don’t know. But at the end of the day, we’re hoping to have some kind of a season.”
District Three league officials in our area and WPIAL officials in the Pittsburgh area are meeting on Monday for brainstorming sessions, to see what the athletic calendar might look like in two weeks at the end of the mandated hiatuses — and that's if those hiatuses are lifted.
The boys tennis season had already started, and the rest of the spring sports seasons were supposed to begin on March 20. The PIAA boys and girls basketball playoffs are also on pause in the quarterfinals, as are the Class 2A swimming and diving state championships from the winter season.
“Like everybody else, we don’t want our seasons to be canceled, especially the seniors,” said Curcio, who will study engineering and play softball for Penn State-Behrend in Erie next year. “We hope it doesn’t come to that, so we wanted to make sure that we have a voice in all of this.”