St. Stephens Indian School will not have any fall sports this fall, school superintendent Frank No Runner announced Friday in a post on the school’s Facebook page.
“It was hard to come to this decision,” No Runner wrote, “but we are thinking about student and staff safety, and for our elders, if we lose them we lose valuable cultural and traditional knowledge that cannot be replaced.”
The decision is a direct result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has been particularly devastating to the Wind River Indian Reservation. As of Friday, there had been 411 confirmed cases and there were 98 active cases of COVID-19 in Fremont County, which is home to the reservation.
No Runner also wrote that the decision to cancel all junior high and high school fall sports and to conduct virtual learning until Oct. 16 was reached after the St. Stephens school board met Friday morning.
St. Stephens was expected to field varsity teams in football, boys cross country and volleyball this fall. The Wyoming High School Activities Association announced Tuesday that all fall sports would begin as scheduled.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case at St. Stephens.
“I’ve had better weeks,” St. Stephens head football coach Billy Brost said. “I knew the board was meeting at noon (on Friday) and the goal was to have sports, even if it was in a limited capacity.”
Brost, who would have been entering his fourth year as head coach, received a text about 2:30 informing him of the board’s decision.
“This is very disappointing, because the kids come first and foremost,” Brost added. “You want them to experience the life lessons that the game teaches you.
“When every other team in the state is playing and we’re not that’s a tough pill to swallow.”
The Eagles were scheduled to compete in Class 1A/9-man football this season after spending the past seven years in 1A/6-man.
“I know that our board and administration are doing what they think is best for the long haul and there’s no one person to blame,” Brost said, “but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Brost fully expects some Eagles players to look into transferring to another county school. Lander and Riverton both compete in Class 3A, while Shoshoni, Wind River and Wyoming Indian are in the newly formed 9-man classification and Dubois competes in 6-man.
“There’s no one person to blame,” said Brost, who also serves as the Eagles track coach. “We just have to hope that our tribe and our administration have the foresight to make the decisions that will help all of us and will keep all of us safe.”
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!