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Balash tells what he’s learned in the COVID-19 era

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — For the past five decades, Dana Balash has been a trusted member of the local sports media community, reporting nightly results while interspersing features for his viewing audience.

Now in his 36th year with WFMJ Broadcasting Group and 29th as the local NBC affiliate’s sports anchor, Balash thought that he had seen most everything on and off the field. That is until this past March when the coronavirus pandemic hit and brought the world, as well as the local and national sports scenes, to a screeching halt.

Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s meeting at Avion Banquet Center, he told the group it is great to be back covering local events, albeit with precautions for his entire staff that have been set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I was in Columbus covering the West Branch girls’ basketball team in the state semi-finals in March when word came down that the game was being postponed due to the virus,” Balash said. “It was disappointing to see them warming up on the court and then be taken off.

“I knew something was up when I saw the face of former OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass when he walked on the court. That was devastating for every team, but the right decision.”

Balash told the group that high school football this fall has made a seemingly smooth transition to the OHSAA’s new rules and regulations for the sport.

“I’m surprised the high school football season has gone as smooth as it has due to the coronavirus,” he said. “We had only two hiccups overall with one case this past weekend being affected. I was a doubter that the season would start and finish with the virus, so that’s a credit to school administrations, their coaches, staffs and players for making sure that all guidelines were and continued to be followed.”

Because of those precautions, Balash feels that the coming high school playoffs could come to a successful conclusion.

“I think the playoffs can run its course and be completed,” he stated. “The idea of having everyone make the playoffs was most interesting but it gave teams a chance to play for something, especially if league championships weren’t possible because of the shortened six-game regular season schedule.”

Balash said even he was surprised at some of his preseason

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