Athletes keep skills sharp despite no team practice

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Southridge High School senior Weston Allen, 17, right, throws a baseball with his brother, Southridge Middle School eighth-grader Hudson Allen, 13, outside their home in Huntingburg on Tuesday. With schools not holding sports practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes are looking for ways to practice and stay fit at home. "It's nice to have someone to throw with," Weston said about his brother.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

With schools out and practices canceled due to COVID-19, local high school athletes are waiting. Waiting for a spring sports season that may or may not come.

But in this time of waiting, the athletes aren’t sitting idle. They’re honing their skills so that when it’s time to play, they’re ready.

Southridge was set to open baseball practice on Monday. Instead, players like Weston Allen are at home.

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced schools to close until May 1, and the senior pitcher and his teammates cannot practice together until then. Baseball is Weston’s favorite sport because there’s nothing like being in control of the game as a pitcher. He got the news Friday that there wouldn’t be practice, which left him devastated.

“I’ve been looking forward to it since we started school last August,” he said.

Kayla Renie/The Herald
Jasper High School senior Grace Colvin prepares to hit the ball while practicing softball with her dad, John, at their home in Jasper on Tuesday. "Every day, I wake up and I'm on edge," Grace said. "I feel relieved that I've already committed [to Wabash Valley College], but I keep checking IHSAA and seeing how things are in the athletic world."

Weston was supposed to sign his letter of intent to continue his baseball career with Asbury University in Kentucky on Wednesday, but that, too, was postponed. He still thinks he’ll be able to put the work in to get ready for Asbury even if there is no high school season, but he is bummed that he won’t get to sign on Wednesday at school in front of his teammates.

“I’ve been in contact with the [pitching] coach [Brandon Mattingly] there and their season has been canceled,” he said. “I’ve just been talking to him, and if ours does, that I can start working with him sooner.”

He’s trying to keep his arm in shape at this point, and has a routine with resistance bands that he does on a daily basis. He also plans to go out in the yard and throw with his younger brother, Hudson, an eighth-grader, but that about sums up what Weston will be able to do.

He has come to grips with the situation, though it remains a tough pill to swallow. However, he isn’t going to let that dictate his feelings.

“I’m trying to stay positive in that things will get better and that we’ll be able to play at least a part of the season,” Weston said.

Grace Colvin found out about not having practice during her seventh period on Friday.

The Wildcats senior received a text message from softball coach Matt Pryor that was sent to the team, asking to meet and close up shop. Jasper High School is also closed until April 6. Pryor wanted to talk to the team about what’s going on, and what the Wildcats are expected to do in the down time.

Grace recalled that most of the team was numb over the postponement. They were upset, they were tense, especially the seniors. The Wabash Valley College signee finds herself on edge waiting for something to happen, hoping that her senior softball season isn’t canceled.

The next few weeks of softball may be gone, but Grace’s hunger for the sport is not. She’s taking it upon herself to do tee work. The team was told to take equipment with them during the hiatus since they won’t be able to use it where they practice.

Grace brought home her equipment and took home a net. She’ll be able to do tee work with father, John.

Northeast Dubois senior Reece Bauer and his basketball teammates recently delivered the Jeeps their first sectional championship since 2014. The Jeeps were supposed to take on Christian Academy March 14 in the opening game of the Loogootee regional, but the team is still waiting to see if they can advance to semistate for the first time since 2000 after the Indiana High School Athletic Association postponed the regional tournament.

“I’ve always wanted to win a sectional since I was a little boy growing up, and finally getting to that regional, we were really looking forward to it,” Reece said.

Reece is also waiting on his senior baseball season, as he’s already committed to continue his baseball career at Wabash College. He’s hoping baseball doesn’t get pushed back any more than it already has.

He’s taking it upon himself to work out at home for both sports, putting time in the batting cage and shooting hoops outside when he can. Balancing the two sports is tough. He remains optimistic that the Jeeps will play in the regional basketball tournament, but he also knows that prospect looks bleak, so he’s putting in the work for baseball season, too.

If he doesn’t play basketball again, he can see a silver lining, a matter of bittersweetness.

“I look back at it and I think about it’d have been a lot tougher losing the sectional and then this happening, but we did win the sectional,” Reece said. “...If this does come to an end, I did win my [last] basketball game in my career, but hopefully we get to play again.”

The past week has been an eye-opener for Abby Hauser.

The senior runner at Forest Park first realized how real the situation is when things began shutting down. She is aware that school might not reopen, that track season might not happen. She’s been running since she was in fifth grade, and while colleges have reached out to her to run at the next level, she turned them down, wanting to instead focus on her studies. The March 13 practice could have been it for her as a runner.

Still, she knows the severity of the situation, and is worried about more than just her senior track campaign.

“I just know that this is all a lot bigger than just me getting to run track,” Abby said. “There’s a lot bigger things going on and I just want what’s best for everybody. So, whether I do get to have that season or not, it’s all for the best.”

She’s taken the opportunity to spend more time with her family, and is making sure to put in the work as a runner since certain workouts and mileage are still expected of the team. Running during this time helps her take her mind off the situation. She can clear her head and get some fresh air, and she enjoys being able to focus on just that.

However, she said she also feels isolated. She and her teammates aren’t together to motivate one another. Everyone is on their own, which has given Abby time to reflect on the memories she’s made with her teammates through the years and appreciate everything she’s had as a runner.

She is trying to stay positive and take things on a day-by-day basis. She wants to gather her teammates and tell them that they still want to do big things if the season goes on. She’d have a new sense of motivation to make the most of every second if it does happen.

“I think I’ll just be so incredibly happy just knowing that I do get to finish the rest of my senior year both academically and athletically,” Abby said. “Just thinking about all the things that I could be missing out on is really hard. So, having that chance to go back and finish it all and to just not take those moments for granted will be a really, really special moment for me.”




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