Reaction somber to closures, sports impactMarch 21, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Thursday’s announcement that schools in Indiana will be closed until May 1 didn’t surprise a lot of locals — but it did disappoint them.
“This is uncharted water for us,” Jasper tennis coach Scott Yarbrough said. “I don’t think there’s anybody currently teaching or coaching or in this field that has gone through anything like this where we just pretty much shut down all academics and sports for a long period of time.”
Yarbrough first thought of the seniors and that they can’t go through their final year of high school the way they want. His heart goes out to them. He also thought about the teachers, and the stress they’ll be going through with all of this.
He isn’t sure what to do if spring sports end up getting canceled entirely. Yarbrough would like to honor his seniors in some way, possibly in a gathering, but he’d have to wait to make that decision. He said there’s a dark cloud over spring sports.
However, unless it’s officially canceled, he’s going to cling to that small glimmer of hope that spring sports will happen.
“I hope, God pray, we’re back May 1 and we can finish the school year,” he said. “I think that would be great. But I tell you, this puts a little damper on that.”
Jasper boys golf coach Caleb Begle says the team can react to the situation however it’d like, but it’s out of the team's control. The whole thing is hard for the third-year golf coach to comprehend, but he remains optimistic.
“We've just got to kind of take it in stride and hope for the best,” Begle said.
Some golf courses remain open, and Begle wants the Wildcats to continue working through all of this. He knows his players were disappointed that school wouldn’t be in session. Begle told The Herald Thursday afternoon that his message to his golfers is that if spring sports happen, they’ll be ready.
He also brought up what other coaches tell their athletes in not taking things for granted.
“It puts kind of everything into perspective, it really does,” he said. “You don’t know when it’s going to end because three or four weeks ago, we never would’ve expected something like this to happen.”
If spring sports do happen, teams will have one smaller hurdle to jump. The Indiana High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that the required practices before competing in an event were reduced from 10 to five. Such a move garnered approval from some local sports personnel.
“The IHSAA is always player-first,” Southridge softball coach Scott Buening said. “They really do a good job with what they do. They’re trying to do everything they can to try give these kids a senior season or a junior season, a spring season. I appreciate that, and I think, everybody else, honestly, I think they should, too.”
“I’m excited to see that, that they’ve done that and that they are considering or at least still leaving the door open to have a limited spring sports season, and hopefully spring sports tournaments,” Southridge athletic director Brett Bardwell said. “I’m glad to see that. We’ll just have to see how that plays out as time passes, but that gives those kids some hope, certainly, that if there are spring sports, that they still will get to participate.”
However, Holcomb’s announcement on Thursday and the IHSAA reducing its required practices also leaves no guarantees. Raiders baseball coach Gene Mattingly brought up the other prospect in all of this.
We have to start considering the fact that our seniors may have played in their last high school baseball game,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly said Southridge baseball still needs to approach every day as an opportunity to get better as a player and as a person, which each individual has a responsibility to do.
“We coach these guys, we love these guys,” he said. “We hope to be part of their senior season, their spring.”
First-year Forest Park girls tennis coach Amie Weyer is encouraging her players to stay physically fit through all of this. The 2014 Forest Park graduate was sad to hear the news, but knows other things take priority.
“This isn’t how I wanted my first season to start out, but we just have to stay healthy and do what’s best for each other right now,” Weyer said.
Northeast Dubois softball coach Dion Terwiske anticipated this move would come. His daughter, Carly, goes to the University of Evansville, which has gone to e-learning at this time, and figured the high schools would follow suit.
He thinks, though, that he has players who can come back and be ready in a quick fashion, should spring sports commence. Terwiske believes they’re really wanting to play, and he thinks everybody in the area will be equally ready to go if it’s on.
“I think sports kind of takes a back seat whenever things like this are going on,” he said. “It shows you how important everything else is. We do sports, and they seem like the most important thing at the time when we do them, but in the grand scheme [of things], there’s other things that are more important.”
Heritage Hills baseball coach Andy Fischer thinks one can either be bitter about it, or go about it the right way. Fischer will look at this as an opportunity to help his own kids with sports, such as basketball, or playing catch with them. As a coach, he knows his players will be disappointed with how hard they worked in the offseason for this to get pushed back.
He added that the Patriots have to want to continue to get better and find ways to make themselves better, however that may be, during this time.
“They always say absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Fischer said. “When we do get to come back together and start playing, I think there’s going to be real high energy. I think that also just reiterates that a lot of people take sports for granted and what sports do for individuals and for teams. I think there’s going to a new sense of just appreciation for the game and for what teams do for each other.
“We look forward to that, and I think the coaches are going to be chomping at the bit,” he added. “I know we’re talking about strategies all the time and how it can make our players better. I know that our players are going to be ready to step up to any challenge we throw at them.”
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