Brownstown football player tests positive for coronavirus


A Brownstown Central High School football player tested positive for the coronavirus Monday, and after informing coach Reed May of the result, the program shut down workouts for two weeks Tuesday.

Following Jackson County Health Department guidelines, the Braves football team, which had been operating under strict Indiana High School Athletic Association guidelines in the first phase of the resumption of sports, had to report the case to a nurse at the local authority.

A disappointed May said the development, plus the continuing worldwide and nationwide mushrooming of the pandemic, may well mean local schools will be unable to stage a high school football season this fall or any high school sports at all.

“I would be shocked if we had football this season,” said May, who has been Brownstown’s coach for 28 years and is one of the winningest coaches in Indiana. “It’s a shame for the kids.”

Indiana shut down high school sports in March before the conclusion of the boys basketball state tournament and then cancelled all spring sports as students were banned from classrooms and relegated to eLearning during the last portion of the 2019-20 school year.

After a stabilization in cases in Indiana, the IHSAA implemented a massively detailed plan for gradual phase-in for the resumption of sports. Brownstown and other high school football teams were able to begin conditioning workouts and selective drills July 6.

The first phase-in period is due to expire July 19, followed by a second two-week block of time with increased practice focus.

Most recently, after the guidelines were introduced, there has been a huge spike in coronavirus cases. Worldwide, the number has surpassed 13.4 million individuals testing positive for the illness and 579,000 deaths.

There are more cases in the United States than any other country with the count as of Tuesday at more than 3.5 million with more than 139,000 deaths.

Major spikes have been recorded in such states as California, Texas, Florida and Arizona.

While Indiana has not been victimized by such a resurgence, the protocols in place called for any athlete to immediately inform May of a positive test. He said the player learned of his positive test about 7 p.m. Monday and promptly informed May at the start of practice Tuesday morning.

Although a former player who had been mingling with the current players tested positive, just one of the 42 active players seeking a spot on this year’s roster received a positive test result.

Brownstown Superintendent Tim Taylor made the news public on social media Tuesday afternoon with the accompanying information that players were prohibited from practicing until the end of the month.

Taylor wrote, “Per guidance from the Jackson County Health Department, in-person workouts for the Brownstown Central High School football team are postponed until Wednesday, July 29, due to a positive case of COVID-19.”

May said he was caught off guard about being sidelined for such a lengthy period.

“I was surprised it was that long,” May said.

He said it seems a little bit odd that kids going out for school-sanctioned sports are being subjected to so many restrictions at the same time young people on summer travel teams are not.

“It’s, ‘Let’s just play,’” said May, who has daughters playing softball.

Yet he realizes the connection to schools makes the difference where parents might sue and teachers may fear being exposed to the virus.

“I understand every side,” May said. “I want school happening. Some kids may go home to grandparents.”

May said he is downhearted for athletes who may be seniors who could lose their senior year of sports participation just as the seniors of last spring did so because once the missed time is lost, it is lost.

“You feel for them,” he said. “Some of them missed the end of basketball. Some of them missed baseball. They’re just fed up not being able to do anything.”

May will try to be optimistic, but he doesn’t have much faith things will change very much, either, until the pharmaceutical community manufactures a vaccine as a cure.

“I just hope they find a vaccine quickly,” May said.

Otherwise, the persistence of the virus despite team precautions and the fact it broke through to affect a player cannot be viewed as surprising, he said.

“We knew there was a risk to it,” May said. “It’s just life. It is a strange world we are living in.”

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