BY ARIEL STAHLER
DGKN sports writer
The spring sports season for Dalton High School has been put on hold. Amid concerns to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has postponed practices and games for spring sports.
OHSAA had previously postponed the boys basketball tournament, the girls basketball state tournament, the state ice hockey tournament and the state individual wrestling tournament.
On March 13, OHSAA released information regarding the spring sports season. In the memo, it was stated there is a mandatory no-contact period for school-sponsored sports from March 17- April 5, 2020. There is also a mandatory shutdown of all facilities in that same timeframe. There is a tentative date set for practice to resume April 6 and the tentative start date for the season is April 11.
Dalton’s baseball, softball and track and field teams have been impacted by these postponements. Both the baseball and softball teams were informed by their coaches of the news at the conclusion of their final practice before the postponement went into effect. Dalton’s softball head coach Pam Spencer said her staff informed the team after practice.
“We had a conversation on how they felt about what was happening and talked through what this meant for our team and gave them the information we had at that time,” she said. “The Lady Bulldogs were able to get a taste of the dirt this week before hearing the news of a three-week hiatus, which makes it even harder in telling them we will not be practicing as a team in the near future. They have been working extremely hard and, as a program, we are disappointed, but realize that every program in the area is in the same boat.”
According to baseball head coach Scott Huth, his team had a similar reaction to the news they would not be practicing in the coming weeks.
“We were sort of getting rumors and updates throughout the course of our practice on Thursday night,” he said. “We finished our practice and then had a meeting with the guys in the dugout and had to share with them that our season was put on hold. I saw a lot of disappointment and frustration in their eyes and that was hard on all of our coaches. I completely understand why we have to do what we have to do in terms of staying home from school and putting sports on hold, but that does not make it any less disappointing. I feel really bad for all of the senior athletes whose last season may not play out now the way they had hoped.”
Huth said his team has been working very hard in the gym and weight room over the offseason, but since the players are not allowed to get together for practice or workouts, all of their progress is on hold. Since coaches are not permitted to encourage workouts or hold practices, he said they are hopeful the players, especially the pitchers, will be able to maintain the arm strength they have built up by continuing to play catch with a parent or sibling. Huth also expressed how he understands the safety measures that are in place, but it is still frustrating to see his players put in work, but not be able to see their efforts pay off in a game condition.
Track and field coach Jodi Augspurger detailed how her team is handling the time off.
“What we have encouraged our athletes to do is to be safe, to eat healthy, get lots of rest, do their schoolwork and be ready to come back to school and practice again on April 13,” she said.
The track and field season will not be as negatively impacted as the other sports if the return dates remain the same. Augspurger said with the tentative April 6 practice return date in mind, the team will have only missed one scheduled meet, so they will have most of the season left. She is optimistic about her team when they are allowed to practice and compete again.
“I believe that we were in a pretty good place when this break began and the athletes were excited about our season, so I think they’ll be even more excited to get back to practices and the meets when we are able,” said Augspurger.
Spencer, who is in her first season as head softball coach with Dalton, said she is looking to the leadership of the team’s only senior, Darian Fiesler, to help the other players during this time away from the field. She also noted they are hopeful the team can pick up where they left off when practices start again.
“In our program, we believe in ‘we before me,’ but right now, they will have to be ‘me’ before we can return to ‘we,’” said Spencer. “We will look forward and hope that we see each other after these three weeks.”
Looking ahead at the projected timeframe to resume baseball activities, Huth said they may possibly have to hold a few long practices to try to get timing back at the plate and get fielding fundamentals back so they can be prepared for many games in a short amount of time. They will also have to be cautious that pitchers do not overextend their arms and sustain injuries.
“Lastly, we may have to have a little patience as there may be some long and sloppy games at first,” Huth said. “It’s unlikely after three weeks off that many teams will be able to hit the ground running.”