Cote hug

Londonderry’s Nicholas Cote, facing, hugs teammate Zack Luongo after the Lancers beat Bedford for the state Division I baseball championship last June. Scenes like this won’t happen this spring after Thursday’s announcement that the season is canceled.

Pinkerton Academy girls’ lacrosse coach Rob Daziel had been planning for this season for a while, starting, he said, about three days after the Astros lost 12-11 to Bishop Guertin in last June’s Division I state championship.

“You started thinking, ‘What can you do to get better? What can you do to help the players get better?” he said.

“Now it’s on to next year.”

Next year is now the focus for all spring high school coaches and athletes after Thursday’s announcement by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association that the 2020 spring sports season is canceled. The unprecedented decision by the NHIAA Council came in response to Gov. Chris Sununu’s executive order to continue remote instruction in New Hampshire schools throughout the rest of the school year.

“This decision was not made lightly given what athletics mean to the participants, parents, and communities across the state,” said Executive Director Jeff Collins in a news release.

“While it was our hope to salvage some portion of the spring season, the fact that schools will not reopen their doors to students this year and the uncertainty surrounding when or if social distancing guidelines will be lifted has made us face the stark reality that playing high school sports this spring is simply not an option.”

For the NHIAA’s full statement, see UnionLeader.com.

Disappointment only begins to describe the emotions expressed by several area varsity coaches reached for comment on Thursday.

“It’s hard on the kids,” said Daziel. “They put in a lot of work in the summer and the winter. Then it’s all about performing in the spring. I’m disappointed for them.”

Daziel had what he called his strongest senior class returning: eight in all, including six who are going on to play lacrosse in college. Included in that group is his daughter Madison. “Five of those girls were on the varsity as freshmen and four were starting by the middle of that year. Our expectations were to reach the finals again.”

Along the way, there would have been career milestones, said Daziel, with new names added to a plaque on the school’s wall. Now, those notable personal achievements won’t be reached.

With the achievements, there would have been the daily interactions among players, noted Souhegan girls’ lacrosse coach Maren Petropulos. Those special days can’t be replaced.

“The little bonding things,” said Petropulos. “The stupid little car wash that raises a thousand dollars. They love that stuff.”

Thursday’s news hit Petropulos’ nine seniors hard, but it also hit Petropulos, who is retiring after 25 years of coaching the Sabers. “It would have been fun to go out with this group of girls,” said the coach, whose heir apparent is former Souhegan player McKinley Sbordone. “We were going to surprise some teams.”

Londonderry High baseball coach Brent Demas, who was about to start his 17th season, said he was displeased that the NHIAA didn’t explore the possibility of playing some type of season.

“The Newmarket coach, Stan Jurkoic, and I were in the minority of coaches still optimistic there would be a season,” he said. “I, somehow, was surprised and I vehemently disagree with the decision. But the NHIAA would have gotten a lot of grief (otherwise).”

Londonderry had five seniors returning to the Division I state championship team.

“All the work they put in, with team workouts ... for kinda no reason. But I said to them, hey, the (workouts) helped you be a better baseball player.

“And your last game (last season), you walked off the field as a state champion.”