Athletics: Area high schools shine lights to be a “Ray of Hope”

The stadium lights shine in the night over the football field 9 p.m. Friday, April 3 at Crosby-Ironton School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

When the calendar flipped from March to April one thing was certain -- no high school sports.

Minnesota student-athletes have been halted from playing spring sports until further notice due to COVID-19.

The hope is they can return Monday, May 4. In the meantime, athletic directors want to show they are thinking about their student-athletes when no games are playing.

A social media trend started where schools shine their stadium lights on their fields at night. The lights represent a beacon of hope for the student-athletes that a season will be played.

Crosby-Ironton turned on its football field lights 9 p.m. Friday, April 3.


“I picked it up on twitter,” C-I athletic director Jared Matson said. “I think Montevideo was doing it and the movement kind of started in Colorado. The idea is just the schools being a light to the student and be that beacon of hope a little bit. It’s a cool thing to symbolize that we are still thinking of the kids and we are here for them in this difficult time of isolation.”

C-I plans to continue to have lights on every Friday night until a season starts.

Little Falls, Pierz and Wadena-Deer Creek also will shine stadium lights starting Monday, April 6.

Little Falls will light up its track from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Wadena-Deer Creek will light its football field 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Monday until school returns. Pierz will have its football, baseball and softball fields lit Monday at 9 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.

“I just started reading John Millea’s tweets from the high school league and seeing that other schools were doing it and I think it’s a cool idea to give the kids a message of ‘hey we are thinking about you, we are here for ya, and we miss you,’” W-DC athletic director Norm Gallant said. “We have a lot of kids who are hurting. We have a lot of kids who sports are what they look forward to most at school and it makes their experience. I really feel for the seniors right now.”

Gallant said when it was announced sports would be postponed student-athletes came into his office with tears.

“Our coaches don’t know what the future holds,” Gallant said. “Everyone is just in the air not quite sure what they should be doing, what they shouldn’t be doing, what they should be planning. I think the uncertainty just makes it hard.”

Along with the lights, C-I plans to launch distance coaching Monday, April 6. All the spring coaches at C-I will meet with their athletes online and have a curriculum put together by Matson.


“(Coaches) will stay connected with the kids and then if the spring season gets stolen from us it’s still a way the coaches and kids get something out of it,” Matson said. “Hopefully we grow and learn from it, instead of everyone being off in their own world.

“The biggest connections our students have are through their coaches. We just want to make sure those coaches are reaching out and making connections. It doesn’t have to be about sports, just checking in.”

Matson said the spring coaches at C-I will get their full salary. They are also refunding all the sports fees so whatever spring sports do happen will be free. For now, it’s wait and see what’s next.

“I’ve heard the MSHSL board plans on meeting and looking at what it looks like for each sport if we do come back May 4,” Matson said.

Gallant knows how devastating it would be to lose the spring season, but he acknowledges there are bigger things to worry about.

“As bad as it is to worry about when we will have a baseball game we got to keep it in perspective too,” Gallant said.

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