WESTFIELD, NJ — Ali Lisanti scored eight points in the Union County girls varsity basketball tournament win earlier this year.
On Thursday, the Westfield High School senior recalled her team’s glory in winning a title that the Lady Blue Devils had not secured since 2008. Lisanti is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.
Lisanti and her fellow teammates looked at each other in the last minutes of the game and took it all in, she said.
“It was the goal that we’d been working toward the past four years, and we achieved it,” Lisanti said. “That was a very special moment for all of us.”
The date was Feb. 29 — just 19 days ago — but a different time entirely. The impacts of the novel coronavirus were viewed to be of most concern to people overseas.
That changed quickly. Now, Lisanti said she keeps in touch with the teammates who netted the county title with her, but they’re not playing basketball — at least not the way they used to.
With social distancing measures necessary, high school athletics are called off and remote learning at schools are in place indefinitely to help mitigate the spread of a virus that as of Thursday had killed nine people statewide and sickened hundreds across New Jersey.
“It’s just difficult to focus directly on basketball with everything that’s going on,” Lisanti said. Still, the student athlete said she is shooting hoops in open spaces when possible.
Lisanti had been set to intern as a coach with the New Jersey Panthers’ Amateur Athletic Union this spring season. That program has been canceled, she said. And a year-end celebration planned with fellow students is not likely to happen, at least not as it was first envisioned.
“We were planning our end of year banquet, but with the COVID-19 I don’t know if we’ll be able to have that,” Lisanti said. “But we’ve definitely been planning on it and looking forward to it.”
Of course, you can still be social while practicing social distancing.
In her exercise and sports science class, Lisanti said, her teacher Christopher Tafelski is among instructors to connect with students through the video conferencing application, Google Meet.
“You have the option to show your face and use the mic but there’s also a chat on the side,” Lisanti said.
Most students prefer the instant messenger function, she said. “I usually use the chat.”
When the physical distancing practices necessitated by COVID-19 are gone, Lisanti anticipates she’ll be playing basketball competitively again.
Lisanti is committed to play Division 3 basketball at Ursinus College next year.