Anna baseball coach Kristian Althauser was holding out hope COVID-19 wouldn’t force the cancelation of the season when the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced the suspension of spring sports in March.
But he wanted to honor the team’s seven seniors in case it did and quickly acted to do so in an intrasquad scrimmage on March 13. He’s thankful he did after the OHSAA canceled all spring sports activities last week.
“It’s something where we were expecting the worst and thought we would try to make the best out of the situation,” Althauser said.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s cancelation of spring sports didn’t come as a surprise to Althauser or many area coaches, most of which have switched from providing athletic guidance to providing coping advice since COVID-19 forced the association to suspend the season in mid-March.
After the initial suspension, the chances of any games getting played this spring looked dimmer and dimmer as the weeks moved on and confirmed cases and deaths slowly increased across the state.
“I was expecting it, but I was holding out hope and trying to be prepared,” Fort Loramie track and field coach Kevin Wrasman said. “I was still sending workouts to the kids and trying to be very positive with them and giving them different things to listen to about staying positive.
“… For the most part, I know (athletes) were expecting it, too. …Some of the seniors were expecting it, but they were definitely still very heartbroken.”
The OHSAA announced indefinite postponements of spring sports and winter sports tournaments on March 12 following crowd restriction and school closing orders by Gov. Mike DeWine. The association announced a no-contact period would go into effect on March 17 — which left a few days for teams to practice and scrimmage.
Althauser hastily organized a senior day for the intrasquad scrimmage.
“The seniors had a good time with it and a great attitude,” Althauser said. “Throughout the whole process and just the other day I had some seniors text me about (the cancelation announcement and March’s scrimmage). …We spoke (after the scrimmage) about the possibility it would be the last time we would be together as a team.
“There’s disappointment in the finality (of the cancelation) now, but it is something we talked about as a team and prepared for during the day.”
The cancelation leaves unanswered questions about what could have been this spring for every team across the state and nation.
Among many questions for Fort Loramie’s track squad, the biggest is how well its athletes could have done in the Division III state championship meet. The program had 16 athletes qualify last year, nine of which were returning this season.
The squad’s girls were particularly expected to do well in Columbus in June. Among the squad’s returnees from last season is Kennedi Gephart, who placed in two individual events and one relay last year. Another senior returnee is Kevin Wrasman’s daughter Alyssa, who placed in one event and one relay last year.
“For three or four years, I was looking forward to this year because of the combination of talent that we would have,” Wrasman said. “Our girls did well last year and we were very much expecting them to do very well again. We have a lot of talent, as you could see from volleyball and basketball (which both earned state berths).”
Anna’s baseball squad was hoping to make a long tournament run, especially after the postseason. The Rockets had many key players returning from last season, in which they finished 17-9 and second in the Shelby County Athletic League.
“We had a lot of guys coming back, some pitching coming back and some guys at the top of our lineup coming back,” Althauser said. “It was going to be another interesting season in terms of who steps up. …We had some high expectations.”
Wrasman said his advice to athletes is to focus on what opportunities they have and not what opportunities they don’t.
“Focus on what you have, especially what you have yet in the future,” Wrasman said. “Always appreciate what you have, too. There’s always stories about kids with disabilities or other issues. Life could always be a heck of a lot worse than missing one season.
“I’ve heard stories about some men during World War II that missed their senior year because they had to go to war. You do a comparison, this is a drop in the bucket compared to that. It’s still very heartbreaking, but try to find a positive.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.