MORRISTOWN, NJ - Casey Flynn had a lot to live up to as the new coach of Morristown High School’s softball team.
First, there was the legacy of his great grandfather, Coach William K. Flynn, who in 1948 led Morristown High School’s football team to win the first-ever New Jersey state championship. Then there was the coach he was taking over from, Bob Bruno, who amassed 400 wins over his career.
But Casey Flynn was confident because he had worked beside Coach Bruno for three years and was hoping to pass all the knowledge he had acquired onto his players.
“I was pretty fortunate to learn from him,” said Flynn, who had embraced the different aspects of the game that Bruno had taught him.
However, this year another page would not be added into the Flynn family’s already historic sports history. The coronavirus ended the season just as it was getting
“The girls did a good job with offseason workouts,’’ he said, thinking back to the promise of the start of the season. “They stepped up and took a leadership role.’
Coach Flynn knows something about high school sports. His grandfather not only led the football team to the very first state championship, but his team was also undefeated and unscored upon. Coach Flynn was also a standout athlete at Morristown High School where he graduated in 2008 after playing football and wrestling. As a wrestler, he was a district champion and a two-time region qualifier, among other accolades. He also coached the wrestling team at the high school for six years, three as head coach, and he sent three wrestlers to the state tournament.
So when he had the chance to take over as coach of the softball team, he thought he was ready. He and his players are now at home instead of alongside one another on the dugout benches. He and his players are not thinking more about social distancing than daily batting practice and having ground balls be hit to them. Their gear has now been changed from black pants and maroon tops to personal protective equipment instead.
Coach Flynn had his first season taken away from him, yet he knows that there will be more in the years to come. For the seniors, they will not get this next season. After having spent three years donning the maroon and white, but not during their last year.
“One of the other seniors, Maddy Swift, and I got the news at the same time right before school ended, and we both literally almost started tearing up,” said senior leader
Coach Flynn said at the start of the season he told his players “to be great right away” and they responded. Olivia Campbell, Madeline Swift, Sabrina Robinson, and
Sibona were the strong hard-working core of the team and had plans to fight hard for their wins. They put in tremendous effort and commitment at each of their early
practices, the coach said, This team had a deep and experienced roster, having no seniors graduate from the year before. Their team chemistry was flawless. They were like a “well-oiled machine,” said Sibona.
The season began like every other. Each year the Colonials start with a team meeting to go over paperwork, their plans for the upcoming year, and what is expected
of them. The next step in their journey was the team workouts in the basement of Morristown High School. Their desire to improve was demonstrated by their willingness
to go to the workouts in the usually crowded weight room.
“They had one of the highest attendance ratings amongst the female athletes,” said Antonio Somma Jr., the head strength and conditioning coach at the high school and the Athletic Training Director at NBD Training Zone in Morristown.
After having spent months preparing, The Colonials had the chance to get outside and practice four times. During those four practices, they were “going nonstop” said
Sibona, who was the team catcher, said she was surprised they even got to practice outside.
“There was no beginning of the season stiffness at all if you can believe it, and it was awesome to see that for the first week,” she said.
In those four practices, the players gave it their all and it was something that Coach Flynn said he will never forget. Yet on that fourth practice, they learned that the would be sent home for what was originally an extended spring break. Instead of having hung their heads, they countered that with a plea for more batting practice. On that last day, balls were being hit into the air until seven at night, extending their practice by a couple of hours.
However, after this, they would have to go home and wait. Like their fellow student-athletes, they hoped that the season would resume. Coach Flynn had his players do workouts that were written up from NBD Training Zone and he kept his players’ spirits up while they waited.
Unfortunately, on May 4th when the NJSIAA issued a statement shortly after Gov. Phil Murphy closed schools for the academic year in New Jersey, their season was over. Coach Flynn was disappointed, but he also had his grandfather's legacy to fall back on. On a plaque standing just outside the football field dedicated to William K. Flynn, it says “perseverance keeps honor bright.”
The message, that the key to honor is not points on the board, but hard work and dedication is one he gave to his players.
By being able to confront a pandemic head-on and not let it tear you down, Sibona and the rest of her teammates have strengthened themselves not just as players on the field, but individuals off of it as well.
“I’ve tried my absolute hardest to just say it is what it is and keep moving because there’s nothing to do about it and I would only be making it worse for myself, and the other girls,” said Sibona.
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