06-11-2020 Tri-city Area Sports

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Restarting Panther athletics after a three-month hiatus

The high school athletics shutdown lasted exactly one spring season, as the MHSAA has given schools the approval to start their summer conditioning and training programs. This approval comes with all sorts of new rules and limitations but nobody is complaining much at this point. There’s still no personal contact allowed, but at least they can play catch with footballs and multiple players can hit the same volleyball now. Important news for Panther athletes and parents The more important news is how the Watervliet athletic program plans to restart now that most of the restrictions have been removed. Athletic Director Ken Dietz along with 15 Watervliet coaches met Monday evening to discuss a plan to “restart, re-engage, and get things rolling again”. Their plan is designed to get the student-athletes moving again after a long layoff. The reality is that many of them probably haven’t been physically active at the levels they are accustomed to this time of year. That’s a reality for all of us though, isn’t it? Starting on Monday, June 15 the athletes and coaches will begin five days of conditioning and workouts to re-start athletic activities and re-start team activity and their off-season workouts. All high school athletes from all sports should be participating. Not only will this be a conditioning opportunity, it also gives the students a chance to see each other face-to-face and restore some of the camaraderie and team spirit they lost during the extended break. So Monday at 7:30 you’ll see a bunch of cars at the high school for the first time in many months, and lots of evening activity on the school grounds. The plan includes any and all high school athletes and many of the coaches working together in this first step program. Starting Monday and every night the rest of the week various coaches will be running the conditioning and workout drills. Each night a different coach will put together a workout suitable for all the Panther athletes. One of the remaining restrictions prevents any indoor activity so the workouts will be held on the grounds. In an email Monday night AD Dietz expressed that the safety and well-being of the athletes is at the top of his list. Each athlete will have to be signed into final forms, and this will help them register each student each night according to the NFHS and MHSAA COVID-19 guidelines. This includes temperature checks and questionnaires about their health and possible contact with the virus. Ken said, “Our athletic department and coaching staff are excited to re-engage with our athletes and re-start our athletic program. Our coaches have put together a great idea to make this happen. We look forward to seeing our kids back on campus doing what they love to do.” Parents should already have received information via email, Facebook, and the Panther athletic website. For questions and other assistance contact the WPS athletic office at 463-0758. Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League June 8 Golf Report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club: Weekly Event, Longest Drive on Hole 3 – Michelle Metz; Low Gross – Cheryl Hutchins with 49; Low Net – Cheryl Hutchins with 31; Low Putts – Maureen MacAskill Pavlitic with 12.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Honoring Hartford’s seniors – A look back at boys varsity soccer With everything going on in the world today, this is a sad and upsetting time for everyone involved. As a sportswriter, it is just as difficult, as we are not able to see our student-athletes doing what they should be doing – participating in athletic events. For now, we are left with the memories, and we will be honoring all our seniors for their accomplishments in the coming weeks. We continue this week by recognizing our senior boys soccer players. Please note that the information in this article came from the official season ending statistics and awards night. The Hartford Press Box thanks Athletic Director and Head Coach Nick Blackmer for his help in acquiring this data. Miguel Cardoso wore #7 on the pitch last fall, and he had a season to remember to conclude his four-year Indian career. The forward scored 26 goals and made 10 assists, on his way to 3rd team all-state honors. He also received 1st team all-conference in the Southwest 10, and was placed on the all-district and all-regional teams in the postseason. Victor Hurtado wore #28 on the pitch last fall, and despite not being among the statistical leaders, had a solid season from his midfielder position. He finished his final season in an Indian uniform scoring one goal and dishing out two assists. Jerri Mendoza wore #26 on the pitch last fall, and while his name was not recognized much for goals and assists, he played a pivotal role in helping to shore up the back line on defense. The four-year letter winner finished his career by having a one goal, one assist season. Nick Pultz wore #27 on the pitch last fall, and over the course of his four-year career, became one of the most solid and steady defenders in southwest Michigan. He may have only had one goal and one assist last season, but the awards he received are numerous. In addition to being named 2nd team all-state, he also received 1st team all-conference in the Southwest 10 (which included “team captain” as the league’s best player), was placed on the all-district and all-regional teams in the postseason, and, because of his work in the classroom, was awarded academic all-state. He will continue his soccer career in the fall at Spring Arbor University. Joel Soto wore #11 on the pitch last fall, and was the attacking midfielder that could be counted on for a big play or two in one of those key situations. He finished his four-year career in the green and white by scoring 18 goals and tallying nine assists. In addition to receiving honorable mention all-state honors, he also was awarded 1st team all-conference in the Southwest 10, was a member of the all-district and all-regional teams in the postseason, and because of his commitment to academics, was awarded academic all-state. More could always be written about these great Hartford student-athletes, but time and space for this column is limited. All this writer can do is join the rest of the Hartford community by saying thank you, seniors. You’ve created memories that you will remember the rest of your lives, and that fans will cheri