Taylor County Spring Sports coaches sound off about the effects of Coronavirus

GRAFTON—Now that the start to spring sports in Taylor County have either been suspended and/or eliminated due to COVID-19, so too are many camps, clinics, tournaments, leagues, and organized practices for our local teams.

I was able to catch up with quite a few GHS and TCMS head coaches, as well as other coaches and league directors, to get their perspective on how the rapidly spreading virus has affected their sport and/or them personally.

GHS Baseball Head Coach Bartsel Keener: “Coaching is all I have known for nine years and it feels really odd to not have it. My heart goes out to my seniors that won’t get to enjoy their final season as a Bearcat baseball player.”

GHS Boys Freshman Basketball Head Coach Hartsel Keener: “For me personally, the only thing I had going on for the school is out-of-season weightlifting and conditioning which I started the day after our basketball season finished. Right now, one of the concerns I see for the athletes taking part in the program is all the progress they have made and were able to see in their weightlifting performance, as well as how their body structures have changed while getting in shape, they will lose. Documentaries show that you lose on a 2-1 basis, so everything they have gained in a month will be lost in two weeks. I hate that for them because these athletes have been working hard every day and some have been working since football season ended, so to sit back and watch all the progression they have made become lost so quickly is a hard pill to swallow.”

GHS Boys’ Soccer Head Coach Arthur Knight: “Although our traditional school season is over, the situation is affecting some of our players’ preparation for the upcoming season. Many returning players are playing with rec or travel teams during the spring and those efforts are now put on hold. My real thoughts are with our current seniors and their families. I cannot imagine their emotions and feeling as they are uncertain about what may come. I think our state and county are taking preventative steps to ensure that is the most important thing at this point.”

GHS Boys’ Track Head Coach Wes Norris: “Not knowing when (or if) we will be able to return to practice is hardest part. I really feel bad for my seniors who have working hard since they were freshmen. This was supposed to be their year. The athletes need to be self-disciplined about making themselves better and healthier every day. In the days of video games and phone apps where it’s hard to find even a couple of kids playing outside, we try to promote regular physical activity even during the off-season.”

GHS Cheerleading Head Coach Chatera Morris: “It hasn’t really affected cheerleading because we are in the off-season right now and have been for a few weeks. As for myself, I’ve just been trying to be more cautious of where I go daily and limit as much contact with others as possible. I live with my parents so keeping them healthy is my goal.”

GHS Cross Country Head Coach P.D. Louzy: “Since cross country is a fall sport, it hasn’t affected us yet. I told them to get out and run when they can. Hopefully, this eases up before the three-week period this summer.”

GHS Football Head Coach Rich Bord: “I feel terrible for the athletes who have trained diligently while anticipating great things for them and their teams only to have their seasons put on hold. Personally, our athletes in the weight room had made tremendous gains, only to most likely start back at square one. However, the bottom line is that we must make protection against this terrible illness our number one priority and do what we must even if it means a shorter spring season, if any at all.”

GHS Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Andrew Moore: “Although this doesn’t impact my season, I do feel bad for my players that are playing spring sports. Some of those girls train a lot for their respective spring sports and it breaks my heart that they may miss a whole season. I also feel bad for the seniors, not only the ones that are playing sports but the seniors in general. They are coming down to the last few months that they will ever be around some of their peers. What is supposed to be an exciting time in their life has been filled with a lot of uncertainty.”

GHS Girls’ Soccer Head Coach Lorraine Isner: “It is unfortunate that extreme measures have been implemented. I hope that as more information about the effects of the virus is known, logical decisions will be implemented.”

GHS Girls’ Track Head Coach Becky Lake: “For our girls who have invested a tremendous amount of time and energy prior to the season starting as well as those who have practiced hard the past couple of weeks, March 13th was a day that stung a great deal. The decision for scholastic-based sports to cease until April 10th (or longer) is out of our hands. What is in our hands is the ability to be prepared to compete if we are given the opportunity. I think the WVSSAC will do all they can do to allow athletes to finish their season, if possible. With that being said, we have two options. We can either be prepared or not prepared. If athletes quit training and are ill-prepared, their season is definitely over. There will not be enough time to get fit and perform at a high level. If athletes train hard over the next few weeks, we have an advantage over those teams and individuals that don’t. Since athletes won’t be at school, they have more time to get in additional workouts (both running and strength). If athletes are prepared and the season is cancelled, you have still bettered yourself physically.”

GHS Softball Head Coach Tyler Cox: “This is a very trying time in several ways for not just our team, but for everyone. Our ladies want to be in school and want to practice and play, but we tell them no. They don’t understand why. With all the uncertainty of the situation for all of society, it is difficult to impossible to give them answers because we don’t know them. We keep in touch with the team through an app so if they need anything or have any questions, the coaches are here for them. We try to keep players, parents, and all involved as informed as possible. Our administration is great at giving us guidance on the situation and we convey that information to our softball community. We are planning on having some type of season this year. No matter the length of it, I am hopeful we can get some games in. Depending on the length of the current situation, I wouldn’t mind seeing the season just be regular season games and do away with Sectional, Regional, and state tournament play. That would free up at least three weeks and teams could just play as many games as possible. This way, all players across the state get an opportunity to play. With trying times comes desperate measures. With common sense, caution, and patience, we will make the best of a bad situation and come out stronger for it.”

GHS Tennis Head Coach Sarah De Piano: “I’m basically left wondering right now if we will have a season and what it will look like if we do. Will we have to try and play multiple teams in a day? Will we have to cancel the Big 10 Tournament so we can have enough matches for Regional? It is also upsetting knowing the players will not get to have the season they should have. I have seniors who have put in a lot of time and effort to have their season potentially cut short.”

Grafton Wrestling Club Head Coach Rick Glaspell: “The youth season was officially over before they started to shut down sporting events due to the coronavirus. We have a few wrestlers who want to continue to wrestle in open tournaments on their own since they don’t participate in another spring sport. It would have been a good opportunity for them to travel to other states to see some different (and sometimes better) competition.”

TCMS Boys’ Soccer Head Coach Travis Uhl: “COVID-19 has definitely impacted the Taylor County Soccer Association as we couldn’t start our season. I don’t think the kids feel the impact as their season hadn’t started. I think as the quarantine carries on and the weather gets nice, it will have more impact on the kids.”

TCMS Football Head Coach Bobby Beltner: “I feel bad for all athletes and especially the seniors. Although I understand the reasoning, is still affects our kids. I hope that we can return to some normalcy in the near future.”

TCMS Softball Head Coach Paul Collins: “The softball season has been put on hold until they evaluate the situation on April 10th. The players and parents are disappointed since they were looking forward to this season.”

TCLL President Tim Hussion: “It has affected our Little League start twice now. LIttle League International has moved our season start date back to May 11th as of this morning, jeopardizing the season as a whole.”

TCYL Director Mark Moats: “My heart goes out to the boys and girls who worked hard just to have the season end right before the start of the tournament. The kids played hard all season and learned a lot. We are looking forward to next season.”



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