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OHSAA sports on hiatus

WARREN — There won’t be high school sports for nearly a month because of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, as announced by the Ohio High School Athletic Association and Gov. Mike DeWine.

On Thursday, DeWine mandated school closures from March 16 through April 5. The OHSAA issued a press release Friday afternoon with detailed information for coaches, players and school administrators on how to proceed with athletic activities.

During the time schools are closed, there is a “no-contact period” in effect, prohibiting coaches from coaching, instructing or supervising any practices, physical fitness programs or open gyms, according to OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass. The no-contact period is for coaches in all sports.

The release added that the situation will be re-evaluated daily. As of now, schools can restart practices on April 6. All scrimmages and games can commence April 11. Those dates are tentative.

“Given the rapidly changing events nationally and statewide, we are assessing the situation daily,” the OHSAA release said. “It is impossible to make a determination today.”

It’s an odd time for high school coaches in all sports, but the time off is especially different for spring sports coaches.

Mathews baseball coach Jared Terlecky received the news about schools being closed during baseball practice Thursday afternoon. He spoke with his team one last time and then sent them home.

“I did talk to them,” Terlecky said. “The seniors, of course, they looked real concerned because this is their senior year. The young guys, they don’t know what to expect. Everyone is in a state of shock right now. Nobody knows. It’s that unknowing that makes you uneasy I guess.”

Terlecky said he understands these types of actions are necessary during an “unprecedented” time.

He said it’s a strange absence unlike any he has seen. He said his assistant coach and former Mathews head coach, Dan Kennedy, 82, couldn’t recall ever going through anything like this in his lifetime either.

Regardless, Terlecky is confident all the schools can find a way to adapt.

“If there’s anyone who can deal with a little pause in the season it’s baseball and softball,” said Terlecky, laughing a bit as he referred to the rain that typically delays and postpones games this time of year. “… We’ve had open gym since Thanksgiving. We’ve been practicing for three weeks. Some of those guys have private coaches they go see in the offseason. They have a lot of time put into this. It’d be a real shame if (they didn’t get a chance to play).”

Some other sports felt the brunt of the disappointment from the outbreak at the worst time.

Boys basketball was halted during the regional tournament. State tournaments for girls basketball, ice hockey and individual wrestling were all postponed, with the hope they will be finished at a later date.

There were 17 area wrestlers, one boys basketball team and one girls basketball team set to compete before being postponed. Canfield had two state wrestlers, including senior Anthony D’Alesio, who was looking to defend his state title from last year. Coach Steve Pitts was let down the state tournament was cancelled, but he also understood the reasoning for it.

“We were certainly disappointed with the postponement of the state tournament, but when taking a step back, we’ve come to understand that this was done with everyone’s best interest at heart,” he said. “We hope that something can be worked out to reschedule. I feel horrible for the seniors who were going to be first-time participants and may not get the experience of the state tournament.

“Wrestlers are a unique breed that are trained to face adversity head on. When you live to compete, it is difficult to have that ability taken away, but we will find a way to move forward and get better from this.”

Athletes aren’t allowed to do much during the time away either.

The release emphasized the “non-interscholastic rule” remains in effect during the break.

The rule essentially means teams or athletes still in postseason tournaments are not allowed to compete in any non-school sports during the time away. For spring sport athletes, they are in violation of the non-interscholastic rule if they participate in any non-school sport in the same season if they have already participated in a scrimmage or contest for the school team in that sport.

The Tribune Chronicle will continue to update readers on the ongoing situation.

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