As athletes in spring sports remain in limbo, coaches around the county weighed in on their thoughts as to the future of the 2020 season.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has issued a mandatory no-contact period for all school-sponsored sports through April 5. Additionally, there is a mandatory shut down of facilities used for the purpose of conducting athletics activities through April 5
The no-contact period, which prohibits any coach, paid or volunteer, approved by the Board of Education, to provide coaching, instruction or supervising conditioning and physical fitness programs or open gyms to members of a school team in their sports.
As to how much time a coach would need to get his or her team ready, opinions vary.
Said WHS athletic director Troy Diels, “Certainly each sport has its own set of circumstances in regards to being in shape. I am confident that our kids will do what they need to do in their time off to stay in shape and ready to go.”
”I believe we would need a week,” East Clinton girls track and field coach Michael Fritz said. “Not ideal and not at peak performance but enough to compete.”
Wilmington softball coach Brian Spurlock said his squad could be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“I have highly motivated kids that work year round on their game and I believe that will continue during this break,” he said. “Two practices and we could be ready to go.”
Some coaches believe the majority of athletes won’t remain steadfast in their fitness level.
Coaches believe some athletes will work on their own. Others believe most will not work at their game.
“Ten to 20 percent will do something to stay in shape,” EC tennis coach Bill Hrabak said.
Said Blanchester softball coach Jamey Grogg, “Even though there might be limits or restrictions, they are still able to do things at home, it is just a matter of if they want to or not.”
Blanchester baseball coach Aaron Lawson said this much time off after the start of the season is detrimental.
“I don’t care what sport it is if you take three weeks off you will lose condition and physical sharpness,” he said.
For baseball, it comes down to, what else, pitching.
“I would need a week (to get ready),” Lawson said. “Assuming we are playing two, maybe three games a week. I would need more than a week if we are trying to play five games a week, like a typical schedule. It all boils down to trying to get arms back in shape to pitch when we resume play.”
EC baseball coach Brian Carey fully expects a resumption of play to be followed by achy arms.
“A lot of arm conditioning goes on behind the scenes before the season starts,” he said. “Without the arm conditioning, we will see arm injuries just weeks into the season.”
Long-time track and field coach Roger Ilg said the simple camaraderie of a team is a point overlooked in the training portion of a sport.
“I feel that it will be difficult for many … some athletes need teammates to motivate them, some are more self-motivated than others,” he said. “High jumpers, shot and discus, long jumpers and pole vaulters will be very far behind in their training. This is more so with the freshmen and first-year athletes.”
Diels, like others, know the decisions being made are done so with the safety of the student-athlete in mind.
“I commend Governor (Mike) DeWine, Jerry Snodgrass and the OHSAA, as well as our local leadership for the decisions being made at this time. This is certainly not ideal and you feel absolutely terrible for the kids, but our leaders are making the best decisions possible with the information that they have been given.”
Said EC boys track and field coach Bob Henson, “The events unfolding around the COVID-19 crisis are truly a tragedy. On the level of sports, I feel especially sorry for the class of 2020 who most likely will miss their senior spring season. But in the larger picture of this event cancelling the sports season to aid in the pandemic mitigation make us all winners.”
“It is hard to argue. We have doctors and experts saying this is the best decision for our nation at our time. We need to be considerate and understanding this is effecting many other individuals and families outside of Clinton County,” he said.
Carey understands both sides of the issue.
“We have to do what is best for our most vulnerable,” he said. “While it may not be what we want, we have to do what is right to save lives. It’s an awful way to end the season for our seniors if we don’t get the opportunity to walk back out on the field to play.”
Hrabak was one coach who believes the situation may not resolve itself in time to resume the spring athletic season.
“It’s really hard to gauge the true severity of the virus but we are in a (cover yourself) society, so I don’t expect a quick resolution, erring on the side of safety,” he said.
Grogg put things into perspective.
“Back when the outbreak started, the thought never even entered my mind that we would be facing the possibility of sports being canceled,” he said. “I just feel so bad for all the seniors who may not get to complete their high school athletic careers.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports