Wichita Public Schools return to practice day after season saved

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After originally deciding to postpone the fall sports season due to coronavirus concerns, USD 259 athletes will get to play after all.

The board reversed its decision on Tuesday night. Less than 24 hours later, athletes took to the courts, the track and the fields.

“They’ve just been excited nonstop,” said West football head coach Adam Rosenstiel. “There’s been a handful of times it’s been hard to contain them and keep them reeled in because, at the end of the day, we have to prepare for a game at the end of the week.”

In the two weeks without sports at West High School, student-athletes learned how to use their voices to display unity.

“All of the kids that actually got together, and knowing that we actually have a voice, I’m so glad our generation can come together and do that,” said West senior volleyball player Laticia Garcia.

In the midst of ‘Let Them Play’ protests that took place throughout the district leading up to the USD 259 Board of Education decision on fall sports and activities, coaches were their players’ biggest fans.

“I know how much the girls wanted this, and how much I wanted it for them, so just the fact they were willing to speak up, and talk about something that they feel is very important to them is a big deal,” said Tierra Knox, West volleyball head coach. “It should show them that there are people out there that have your back, and who are willing to support you and hope you’re successful in whatever it may be.”

“Through adversity, the champions rise. The cream always comes to the top,” said Rosenstiel. “It gave all the coaches, who are a good mix of ethnicity, to teach the kids how to rise above, how to make change how to make their voices heard in the proper way without hurting their community.”

When the players returned to practice on Wednesday afternoon, it became clear that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

“You know how on Christmas Day, you wake up, and you’re kind of excited to wake up and open your presents? That’s kind of how it is,” said Arturo Rojas West junior soccer player.

For some players, the BOE reversal represents an opportunity to take their talents to the next level.

“This is my ticket to college,” said West senior football player Tykeem Hopskin. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to go without this.”

While the true length of the season remains unknown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches are urging their teams to ‘control the controllables.’

“It’s time for us to make a statement, or make an impact, as far as our program our school, our community,” said Knox. “We have a lot to prove.”

City League play is set to kick off with soccer and volleyball on the tenth, and football on the 12th.

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