SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ – The cessation of sports practices for newly picked Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School spring teams could not have come at a worse time for upperclassmen. For seniors, the pain is obvious. It’s their final season, and the teammates are unsure they will get to bond with their teammates one last time.
This year, there are couple of seniors who made varsity for the first time, according to athletic director Ryan Miller. However, the potential loss of a sizable chunk of the season – possibly all of it – is equally troublesome for juniors.
“For juniors, this is the recruiting time for spring athletes: baseball, softball, tennis, golf, and on down the line. They can play in the summer, but it’s not the same,” Miller said. “I am worried about the next step. What happens to those kids who worked so hard to play and get recruited?”
“It makes me sad for boys or girls lacrosse, for instance,” Miller added. “Their whole year has been spent anticipating this moment. How do we fill the void for them? Not having a season certainly is troublesome for juniors who are looking to play in college.”
The coaches are on the front lines, checking in with students, reminding them not to organize practices, and encouraging them to work on their own.
“Since Friday, I've sent them messages telling them to stay positive and to stay in shape, and to be careful and to listen to their parents,” said varsity baseball coach Joe Higgins. “I really feel for the seniors who are losing part of their final season. I told them to take it a day at a time, a week at a time, and to be ready to come back when we are allowed to do so.”
Boys lacrosse coach Nick Miceli brought his team together on Thursday, March 12, for what might have been their last practice session for a while.
"We were fortunate enough to read the writing on the wall with what was happening at the college level. So last Thursday we decided to run a couple drills and then let the boys have an inter-squad scrimmage," Coach Miceli said. "We felt like it might be the last time we got out for a while, so we wanted the boys to have fun and play. It was evident from their energy and good spirits that they really enjoyed it."
Some coaches have shared fitness routines and video links to help their players stay in shape. They are not allowed to run practices due to COVID-19 social distancing procedures that are in place for all schools and sports. Girls lacrosse senior captain Catherine Buren took matters into her our hands and posted a video of her home workout.
"I created a Google Classroom for our team where we have been posting wall ball routines for them, as well as at-home workouts, which we just started on Monday," said girls lacrosse coach Virginia Webber. "Catherine created hers on her own."
"The workouts are to keep the girls motivated and keep them hoping they will have a season. They have been asking to get together and run captains' practices, but that is not permitted, and the girls are definitely bummed," Coach Webber said, "I use an app called band where I can communicate with the girls, there is a way for them to share pictures and videos with me that keeps the girls talking with one another. I am also able to see what they are doing as well."
"I use the Google Classroom to post videos, motivational quotes, and workouts for the girls, while also staying in touch with them," she added. "It is definitely hard. I can’t imagine, especially being a division one athlete myself. They continue to have hope, but I'm not sure how much longer that will last."
Ryan Miller says that if there is a silver lining to the havoc that the coronavirus has caused, it’s that people are appreciating parents and coaches more now than before.
“Coaches can be an outlet for kids to express their frustrations. These adults go beyond the coaching ranks,” Miller believes. “What does a coach do? Everything. Some kids don’t want to listen to mom and dad.”
The athletic director admits that this whole situation has been hard on the young athletes and had a message for them.
“There was a time in my life that I set things in motion to go into army, but I got knocked out by asthma. It took me a long time to balance that I had lost something but that it was out of my control,” Miller said. “It’s hard. My advice is to take a step back and look for an opening. If I didn’t get into teaching, wouldn’t have met my wife. Try to see what door has been opened rather than what has been taken away from you.”