Teams stay in touch throughout pandemic

John F. Kennedy High School boys basketball coach Mark Komlanc constantly provides information to his team through his social media accounts.

The Eagles are coming off a Division IV regional semifinal appearance. They’ve made regionals two of the last four seasons.

He would like to be preparing his team to play in upcoming camps next month, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put offseason basketball activities, and pretty much every other sport, on hold.

“(Normally), it’s the best time of the year. It’s heaven,” Komlanc said.

For now, there’s still online schooling. He and his staff talk about his team’s grades, assignments and anything they need.

“Our No. 1 priority is their safety and health,” said Komlanc, JFK’s dean of students. “After that, our focus is encouraging staff on their academics. It’s really easy to forget that. I’ve seen some workouts thrown out there — some being a 6-hour workout.

“These kids have people to take care of, to help out and have schoolwork to do. Our focus first is being academics.”

He realizes not everyone has a hoop or a basketball. Komlanc emphasizes the mental approach and the physical regiment when that’s the case.

“I’ve taken the approach, and our staff has taken the approach, of trying to focus on the mental part of it,” he said. “I’ve asked the kids to do yoga, do some mindfulness, a lot of film study. As a coach and a staff, we’ve been going to coaching clinics online probably three times a week. I will steal as much as I can from there and send stuff to the kids and let them take a look at that from the point of possibility improving their basketball IQ.”

Warren G. Harding girls basketball coach Frank Caputo is coming off a season where the Raiders made their first district title game since 2000.

Caputo teaches strength and conditioning at WGH to all female varsity athletes during the school year. Of course, he has all of his players in this course, which they still do through the current online regiment. They have to do a 20-minute video each day.

“At least we’d stay in somewhat type of shape that we can get into being at home,” Caputo said.

The trio of Kamarah Bender, Faith Burch and Diamond Phillips, who will all be seniors next season, has the drive to put the Raiders back in the district title game next season – and possibly further. Burch currently has drawn interest from NCAA Division I schools like Cleveland State, Youngstown State, St. Bonaventure, Albany and Miami (Ohio), to name a few.

Caputo has his team draft to pick small groups. They all have a point system where they perform different activities.

Working at home now gets WGH closer to its goals.

“They’ll submit to us what they’ve done,” Caputo said. “Each team will get a point total and give the group at the end of the month a T-shirt or sweatshirt, or take them to Dairy Queen when this thing is all done.

“I try to give them an incentive thing to get them to work together and get that team bonding. Get them working together, whether it’s through the 20-minute video or finding a place to dribble — 5-minute dribbling session, record and send it in.”

The Ohio Department of Health has closed all school facilities until June 30, which means July is the earliest teams could be doing live off-season workouts.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has a no-contact period for coaches during August. Currently, there is a no-contact period, but videos, social media, texts and phone calls are allowed.

“What I’m hoping for is August is open now,” Caputo said. “Have open gyms and things of that nature. Not the 10-day period. Have more contact since we’ve been away from them for so long. Hoping that happens. We’ll try to get them into something if July opens.

“Colleges have been moving dates back. Try to get into a summer league at our place and get some local teams together and just get the kids out and play.”

Komlanc hopes there’s some relief for team in the fall. Possibility some days before practice begins in November. It’s valuable to make up for time lost due to the coronavirus.

“August being available is a huge must in my opinion,” Komlanc said. “I think the next thing is if we can’t do June or maybe a little bit of July, I think they need to consider basketball to have a fall league instead of a summer league. Usually, it’s open gyms and conditioning in the fall.

“I really think in order to have basketball be watchable at the beginning of the season, we need to have some coaching availability there. Basically, you can’t do anything with your team coaching-wise until November.”

Definitely a quandary for area basketball coaches.


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