Area HS coaches adapt to lack of spring sports season

first_imgSchools across the state closed in mid-March, just as tryouts and practices were about to get underway. Gradually, hopes for any kind of season flickered away as the number of infections and deaths climbed at the local, state, national and worldwide levels.On April 27, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association canceled its slate of state championships. Four days later, governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools would stay closed for the rest of the academic year.Among the many sports that never got started was track and field, where long-time West Genesee coach Jim Vermeulen said his challenge was to see that his athletes exited the crisis with a firmer and deeper perspective on life. Whether young or old, newly-hired or long-established, high school sports coaches are accustomed to facing change, whether it’s new students on their rosters or rules changes or some other unforeseen challenge.Dealing with the loss of an entire season before a practice or game could take place falls into a whole other category.Among the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic was the entire 2020 spring sports season, a reflection of similar cancellations across the country of all activities having to do with schools. Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditComment on this Story In his “Thoughts From Three” journal for the NY MileSplit web site, Vermeulen discussed, at length, what he was sharing with the kids he coached.“The virus had created a virtual “pause” in society, and that pause has offered my athletes the chance to dampen the daily noise and to use social distances to find themselves,” said Vermeulen.“The goal is to emerge on the other side of the pandemic with stronger appreciations and less-distracted convictions. For the athletes, this uniquely stripped-down form of daily life presents the chance to appreciate what it fully means to ‘be an athlete.’”Later on in the journal, Vermeulen shared stories from some of his athletes, who talked about altered training routines and even doubts about whether they even wanted to be on the team.It concluded with the coach continuing his conversation with them all the way to the end of the school year.“At times, the pause is as important as the push,” said Vermeulen. “And since coaching is teaching, I could easily offer my distance runners a one-question final exam: Briefly describe what you’ve learned this spring about your running.”Switching to softball and baseball, where the snow had melted in mid-March and teams were set to have a rare opportunity to practice outdoors, and on the field, when the schools closed.That affected, among others, the Solvay softball Bearcats, the 2017 state Class B champions and expected to be quite strong again this season.Veteran Solvay head coach Phil Merrill was about to start his 31st season. He said he, like so many others, could not have predicted that a pandemic would wipe out an entire year’s worth of work getting ready for 2020.“‘Ive dealt with weather-related seasons or seasons with kids sick, but nothing to this extent,” said Merrill. “I personally miss being at the field hitting infield, outfield or batting practice.”Yet even as he expressed his dismay at how things turned out, Merrill kept the whole issue in perspective.Not being around the kids is making me feel my age (and) they kept me feeling young,” he said.  “I hope if things workout, that we can get back to high school sports by next season (and I) hope the kids can bounce back from this as well as our whole country, because this is far more serious than high school sports.”Up at Marcellus, where its boys golf team still has a spring schedule, head coach Joe Goss, who has led the program for 25 years, had his own set of challenges to face.“We had 16 players signed up, from Sean Colella, who made it to the state tournament the past two seasons, to kids who really are just starting to learn to play,” said Goss.“Since I know all the kids from school, I was excited to work with this group of personalities, but we will wait. This area has responded pretty well to the distancing rules so inconveniences are just that, and not devastating sorrow.In the meantime, Goss said that he kept in touch with all of his players through establishing mental drills to learning about the Mustangs’ home course, Sunset Ridge, and also learning about the rules of the game. Tags: MarcellusSolvayspring sportsWest Geneseelast_img

Post A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *