High school sports put on hold for now; Hopefully there will still be a spring season to look forward to

Union High School Athletic Director Linda Ionta is usually outside at this time of the season, barring a March snowstorm.
She is out monitoring Union’s spring teams, taking in a baseball practice after school, watching a softball scrimmage, keeping an eye on the track and field athletes, etc.
Involved in Union athletics now for 30 years, the last 10 as the school’s athletic director, Ionta, like many, is now working from home.
Home is now her office, her playing field, her place to remain as safe as she possible can.
Nobody is outside right now. No one is playing. No one is at practice.
The spread of this dreaded Coronavirus has drastically changed all of our lives.
The two things any human being needs the most, his or hers health and freedom, come in to play here. In order to keep our health we have lost our freedom for a bit now.
The question is for how long?
Union schools are closed for this week and next. Some districts in the area are closed until the day after Easter, April 13, which is a four-week period.
There is no NBA, NHL, MLS, MLB Spring Training and, which is completely mind-boggling, there is no NCAA Tournament basketball, men’s or women’s.
We’ve been without basketball, hockey, baseball and football before because of work stoppages over labor disputes. However, the NCAA men’s tournament has been played every year since 1939, until now.
The high school sports season commenced in New Jersey with the first official day of practice on March 6. Schools got in one week of practice, no scrimmages, just practice, before the mandate came down from Gov. Phil Murphy to close all schools.
“The schools are closed for two weeks here and then we’ll evaluate,” Ionta said by phone Sunday afternoon. “We don’t want to lose the (spring) season.
“It’s hard to believe. We’re all stunned.”
Ionta, those from the central (Board of Education) office and Union Superintendent of Schools Gregory A. Tatum met with Union Board of Health officer Marconi Gapas. Students were scheduled to begin remote learning from home on Tuesday, March 17.
“Right now we’re going to play it by ear,” Ionta said. “We’ve stopped all athletic activities for two weeks. We’ll sit down after two weeks and see where we are then.
“We’re following the advice from our superintendent and health office in Union. That’s where we are right now.”
With not every school in Union County having the same time period away from sports it will be very challenging for Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (UCIAC) Executive Director Tom Lewis to try to piece a spring sports season together should one still be in the works.
“We hope to get a better handle on things in two weeks, for better or worse,” Ionta said. “We would like to be able to salvage county tournaments.”
This is the ultimate wait-and-see situation, with the hope that everyone stays healthy by taking the proper, state-mandated precautions. The spread of COVID-19 must be halted before students are allowed to go back to school and participate in extra-curricular activities.
“This is really unbelievable,” Ionta said. “You shake your head and say what’s happening? Parents can contact us through phone or by e-mail. This is terribly disappointing for the seniors.
“We’ll just try to be positive, take it day-by day, and hopefully it gets better. Myself and our health and physical education department, we’ll answer questions to the best of our ability.”

COMMENTS