NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- By Monday, when then decision became official, it seemed inevitable to all concerned. But that did not make the confirmation any easier that, along with Gov. Phil Murphy's directive to cancel school for the rest of the spring, came the eradication of the spring high school sports season -- a season which never did get under way.
"It was the expected news," said New Providence High School athletic director Vinny Carangelo, "but although this was always the most likely outcome, that did not change the fact that it is extremely devastating for coaches, players and senior athletes. Even the most unrealistic hope is still a chance until you find out that there will not be a season."
The last day of school turned out to be Friday, March 13. That was the day before scrimmages for spring sports were scheduled to start. That Monday, New Providence High School closed its doors indefinitely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, instead of scheduling buses and officials for spring sporting events, Carangelo will be conferring with all the school's spring coaches and pondering some way to honor the senior athletes who had the final season--and final semester--of their high school experienced ripped out from under them.
"I have a Zoom meeting with all spring coaches (Wednesday)," Carangelo said on Tuesday. "We are figuring out some way to to best recognize our senior athletes and do right by them to highlight them. I have no doubt they are devastated. The coaches have been trying to keep positive and meet with their teams via virtual meetings."
Carangelo said that although all athletes are probably feeling a strong sense of loss, it is a particularly poignant blow to the 12th-graders.
"Seniors are missing all the different things you look forward to your entire time in high school," Carangelo said. "They’re gonna remember this now for all the wrong reasons. You are always trying to find silver linings. Every bit of bad news you’re dealt, somehow try to stay positive. For a senior spring athlete that is the hardest thing to find. Maybe it helps you appreciate how much you truly loved your sport until it was gone. Or how much anything can mean to you and it drives you to work towards something."
Carangelo related the story of a senior player in one sport who'd bided his time and waited several years behind a starting player at his position to finally get his chance to start this spring.
"Now it was his time, and he never got that moment," Carangelo said. "Those certain situations make me feel so terrible."
Looking ahead, the New Providence AD mulled the unknown when considering what the scholastic sports scene might look like in the fall.
"It’s difficult to plan for the complete unknown. So much of this is guided by the government, at the state and even the federal level. Right now, we’re planning for business as usual in the fall," Carangelo said. "My philosophy is to maintain positivity, and I hope and expect things to be that way. It's so hard to plan for anything other than for things to be normal. We have plans B and C we can go to, but Plan A is business as usual. We have to be hopeful that that's what ends up happening."