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Spring sports players, coaches facing tough reality thanks to coronavirus

Restore the roar

B.B. Comer head football coach and athletic director Adam Fossett in August 2018.

TALLADEGA COUNTY -- The decision to suspend school and sports has created a tough reality for both spring coaches and players to deal with. 

The suspension began Wednesday and is set to last through April 6, when the Alabama High School Athletic Association will re-evaluate and make a final decision on the status of spring sports.

B.B. Comer athletic director Adam Fossett thinks the COVID-19 outbreak hit faster than anyone expected. Fossett said this is something everyone should take seriously.

“I have talked to numerous coaches, ADs (athletic directors) across the state and in other states. It has been an eye-opening experience,” Fossett said. “You have concerns for the kids, and I think everyone has to understand that this is bigger than sports.

“We are not happy that our seniors couldn’t finish spring sports. I am the track coach, and we didn’t get one track meet. We had 40 kids running track, boys and girls combined, that worked hard and had done everything they could to get better to prepare for track season. They did not get a chance to run at all, they didn’t get a chance to compete at all. 

“It is so much bigger than sports. I hope that it is a lesson for the kids and everyone involved.”  

Munford baseball coach Jamie Burgess feels suspending spring sports, for the time being, was a necessary decision, but he can’t help but feel for his three seniors.

“It is something that you can’t control, and the worst thing is for the high school seniors,” Burgess said. “They don’t get that back. Even if we get the championship games in, they still lost half of their season. 

“It is different going through it … You are trying to find a positive outlook. You are trying to figure out if you are going to come back or not. You don’t know if you are or not. If you are, during this three-week break, what are you doing to prepare for that without putting yourself at risk? It is definitely a challenge.”

Gov. Kay Ivey announced state schools would be closed beginning Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHSAA released a statement saying it would follow those guidelines and likewise close all athletic events, including contests and practices. 

Burgess didn’t provide his players with a workout plan to follow for the break, but he is confident they are doing what it takes for them to be successful if they are allowed to play again this season. 

“I can’t tell them that they have to do anything,” Burgess said. “If you want to do anything, your parents are going to have to say it is OK for you to go do whatever you want to do.   

“As far as our guys know, it is certain routines they go through. The only deal is that they don’t have someone there to make them do it right or help them do it better. 

“For pitchers, the biggest thing, in my opinion, if they are throwing, they still need to be throwing off the mound. I told (the players) for our culture and what we do in Munford is have a player-type thing year-round where the guys lead themselves. They work out by themselves, and I am just the facilitator. I know my guys can get done what they need to get done.”  

Lincoln High School’s head softball coach, Chad Mullinax, doesn’t want to take the time off, but he knows it is necessary to keep people safe. Mullinax hopes the Lady Golden Bears will be able to continue with the season.

“We hope that this is not it,” Mullinax said. “I hope we can come back in April like they were saying and get back ready. Hopefully, we can have an area tournament and playoffs -- that’s what we hope. But if we don’t, we understand. If the season ends now, we went out as six-time (county) champions. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen, but if it does, we went out with a bang.”

Another activity that may be in serious doubt even if school returns to session in April is spring football.

“If I had to guess right now, we wouldn’t have any kind of spring football,” Fossett said. “There are a lot of different takes on that. 

“Some coaches don’t care about doing spring football anyway. One of the proposals this year is to rid yourself of spring football in order to start a week early in the summer … With us being a small school, I am one of those guys that will almost be for that. I think I would rather start a week early in the summer than have spring ball.”

LaVonte Young is the Sports Editor for The Daily Home. Contact him at lyoung@dailyhome.com or follow him on Twitter @LYoung_DHSports.

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