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EMass girls’ lacrosse captains ask MIAA to save tourney in spring season

Ellie Hilsabeck (13) and NDA-Hingham girls' lacrosse captains came together to write a letter to the MIAA, persuading them to stay with a plan to host postseason tournaments.
Ellie Hilsabeck (13) and NDA-Hingham girls' lacrosse captains came together to write a letter to the MIAA, persuading them to stay with a plan to host postseason tournaments.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

In a unified effort, 33 girls’ lacrosse captains from 15 Eastern Massachusetts schools have asked the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to structure a spring season that would include postseason tournaments in light of a shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Emphasizing that safety is the priority, Notre Dame Academy-Hingham senior Ellie Hilsabeck and her fellow captains wrote a letter to the MIAA’s Board of Directors to "ask you to please not take away one of the final things we have to hold on to from this senior spring.”

Governor Charlie Baker announced last Wednesday that Massachusetts schools would remain closed until May 4 due to COVID-19, extending the shutdown an additional four weeks from his original order, with an April 6 reopening.

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On Monday, the MIAA Board will hold a virtual meeting to review the recommendation of the Tournament Management Committee for hosting postseason tournaments. The MIAA released this statement following Baker’s announcement:

In light of Governor Baker’s March 25, 2020 mandate that all schools remain closed until May 4th, the status of spring sports will be addressed by the Board of Directors on a March 30th conference call and an immediate update will be provided to the membership.

Among TMC recommendations to the Board is that if there is a spring season start date of after April 27th, there will not be an MIAA tournament. This recommendation, as well as a plan to save a spring season for MIAA student-athletes will be the substance of a March 30th Board meeting.

This recent news from the Governor is surreal. The MIAA will continue to monitor this fluid situation and provide updates regarding spring sports as soon as they are made available. Thank you all for your flexibility, understanding and patience. Support and guidance to our schools, student-athletes and to you, our membership, is priority during this uncertain time.

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Entering Monday, the MIAA’s current plan is to start all spring sports on May 4 with a cutoff date of June 20, but the lacrosse captains noted in their letter that they would be willing to play beyond that date if it meant saving their senior seasons.

On Thursday, Hilsabeck convened with her fellow captains and teammates from the Mass Elite lacrosse club to formulate a plan to make their voices heard.

“We all kind of understand that it’s something serious that’s going on,” Hilsabeck said. ”We just wanted to make it known how important these things are to us.”

At Lincoln-Sudbury, captain Caroline Davis is working virtually with her coaches and teammates to stay in shape if a season begins. The team is doing activities such as virtual wallball workouts on Zoom to stay connected.

“It’s our senior year," Davis said. "We want to do whatever we can to have a season and we thought this was the best way to do that.”

Hilsabeck, who has committed to play at Vanderbilt University next spring, has been staying in touch with her teammates and coaches from the defending Division 1 state champion Cougars through an e-mail chain, in which upperclassmen send workout plans approximately every other day to keep players in a routine as they eagerly await the day they can step on a field again.

At the end of those e-mails, NDA’s leaders sign off with a simple, optimistic message.

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"Keep getting excited for the start,” Hilsabeck said.

Read the captains’ letter to the MIAA here: