06-18-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

WHS STUDENTS… led by Athletic Director Ken Dietz and several coaches, met Monday night on Panther field to get a jumpstart on the fast approaching fall season after 3 months off during the COVID-19 pandemic. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma fall sports coaches given guidance in summer preparation

Recently, as our governor has opened up more and more of the state to get back to everyday activities, and getting people back to work, it is looking like there will be high school athletics this fall, as we get our students back in the classrooms.

In speaking with two Comet fall coaches, head football coach Joe Stephens and varsity cross-country coach Courtney Churchill, they both seem to be confident of a full season of competition this fall. Coach Stephens says, “I’m much more confident now, than I was a month ago that we are going to have a football season. We are going to begin workouts on June 15, but there are a lot of restrictions on what kind of activities we can have our kids perform.”

Coach Churchill sounds to be just as optimistic about preparing for a season. In explaining how she has been in contact with her team during the pandemic Courtney says, “I have a group message I use to communicate with my varsity runners. I also send them messages of encouragement, and let them know that I got my running in for the day. I try to send them a message every other day, with workout suggestions.”

News came out this week from the MHSAA officials that there are indeed plenty of restrictions to follow, but teams could begin their summer workout programs, and listed those restrictions specific for each different sport.

Coloma Athletic Director Wendy Goodline sent letters out this week to parents of high school students announcing the plan with restrictions for these preparations. The letter from AD Goodline starts, “I am excited to announce that it’s finally time to get our students back into the joy of athletics. It has been a long 3 months, and I’m anxious to see our athletes back in action. I would like to touch base with the parents to inform you of the procedures the coaching staff at CHS will be taking to keep your child safe as they return to the school for workouts.”

The letter goes on to explain the safety procedures both while at the school and things they will need to prepare to go to practice, such as their own water bottles, towels, and equipment, and the fact that they should not share these things with anyone else. All of what is now getting to be COVID protocol, and questions regarding the virus, would be performed before the athletes are allowed to work out. One of the main themes binding most of the sports is that during the workouts or scrimmaging, no contact is allowed, and distances of six feet should be maintained for optimal safety. Also, the workouts will have to take place outdoors.

Coloma Press Box will go into more of the details outlining the regulations, and an up to date summer practice schedule in next week’s column. So be sure and keep reading the Coloma Press Box every week to stay up to date on all the sports we’re talking about here in our corner of the world.

NASCAR, PGA now up and rolling on TV, still no fans allowed at events

Athletics has been set mostly on the back burner the past few months, as the world had slowed to a crawl. Now that many of the businesses in the majority of the country have started to gain a little traction, our thoughts are naturally turning back to activities that were taken away, and sports is certainly something everyone would like to see get ramped back up. Whether it is games we all compete in for our enjoyment such as golf or bowling or watching the professionals go at it in their particular arenas. We are looking forward to good times once again, even if it means watching the pros only on television.

Currently all of the major sports which have resumed are not allowing fans into the games and no one is certain when the fans will be able to return. The PGA played their first golf event last weekend down in Ft Worth, Texas; a professional tournament that has one of the longest histories of any event played only in one city for over 70 years. Daniel Berger who was hot before the 14 week golfing hiatus, won in a playoff. It was an extremely impressive win. Many of the top 50 players in the world competed in this unique event, made so by it being the first held following the pandemic, with no fans allowed on the premises, and even several of the announcers were thousands of miles apart, as social distancing is still the order of the day.

Detroit Country Club will be hosting a PGA event here in Michigan, on Fourth of July weekend. That tournament and those in between now and then will still be played with players and caddies, and PGA personnel only, on the course. The Memorial Tournament in Ohio, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, on July 13th thru the 19th, will be the first PGA event where fans will be allowed to be on hand, watching, and being a part of the excitement.

Major league baseball is still in negotiations between the owners and the players, and there’s no positive news coming out from either side. The players have rejected the owners’ latest proposal, and are willing to report when and where the owners say.

The players agreed back in March when the shutdown first started, to allow the owners to set a 50 game schedule at their discretion. Which means the fans could just be getting back into the swing of a pennant race, and suddenly the season would be over. The players were looking for an 80-82 game season, but that now looks like it won’t happen.

Tigers, White Sox, and Cubs fans in southwest Michigan are still hopeful for some kind of a season. It’s still very difficult to think of any summer, really being a summer, without baseball.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford Volleyball starting conditioning – Sign of what’s to come?

We have seen the headlines over the last couple of weeks that things are progressing in Michigan’s systemic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Readers of this column are likely to have been asking for months about the possibility of fall sports, and whether they will happen next school year. If some current indications come about, sports may happen – but things are far from certain.

Beginning this week, the Hartford Volleyball team will be starting conditioning workouts. Of course, due to the current ban on gathering in indoor gyms, these workouts will be occurring outside. Workouts began on Tuesday, June 16 and will also happen on Tuesday, June 23 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. In order to participate, athletes must complete and update their online account through FinalForms.

Again, while it is great that we are seeing fall sports getting ready for their seasons, the future is still uncertain. Guidelines set forth by the State of Michigan remain in effect for our area, and competition is currently not allowed due to social distancing guidelines. However, the MHSAA does seem to suggest that administrators should begin preparations for allowances of athletes on high school campuses soon.

Will things return to a “new normal” by late-summer and fall? It remains to be seen. But, if you are a sportswriter like me, you are hoping for the best possible outcome. My message to fans is this – stay tuned.

A look back: Hartford senior stories return next week

Returning to this column in subsequent editions will be our look back at the seniors of the Class of 2020. In the next edition of the Tri-City Record, the Hartford Press Box will take a look back at the boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams, teams that were competitive throughout their seasons last fall and whom competed with the pride and character it takes to be a Hartford Indian. Get ready for some great stories continuing in the coming weeks!

As always, GO INDIANS!

Press Box Player of the Week!

By Dave Vollrath

Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for June 18, 2020 is recent Coloma graduate Nick Santarlas.

Nick along with his football team mate Cole Alsup were both nominated by Comet head football coach Joe Stephens to play in the Addix All Star charity football game. This all star game was started in 2016, and to date has raised over $50,000 for Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids. Both, Nick and Cole, were named to this elite group, who were seniors during the 2019 football season.

The game is usually played in June, but was canceled this year thanks to COVID-19. It is a tremendous honor for the two Coloma Comet athletes. In receiving this honor, Nick was nominated because of his work ethic, which he showed both on and off the field. Football is Nick’s favorite sport, though he also competed for the Comets as an honorable mention all-state bowler this past season, and he ran track throughout his high school career. Nick states that he loves football because of the rush you get from it, and the opportunity to excel in the biggest moments.

Nick’s proud parents are Jill Page and Bob Santarlas.

His plans, now that his high school career is behind him, currently are working at Harding’s in Coloma and attending LMC in the fall. After two years at LMC, Nick would then like to move on to Western Michigan to continue his education.

Congratulations on this honor, and we wish Nick the best of luck, at all he tackles in the future.

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Three months off and they’re ready to go

The line to get into Panther Stadium on Monday night wasn’t long, but it was moving slowly. There have been no fans at the stadium since the final varsity football game in 2019, and there won’t be any fans there until the next home soccer or football game. On this night the athletes were spaced out and waiting to get a shot of hand sanitizer, have their temperature taken and recorded, then finally answer a few questions about their overall health and contact with others. Many of us are going through this same protocol every day at work but for most of the students this was their first time, and it won’t be the last.

LET’S GET TO WORK… and that is exactly what WHS student-athletes did Monday night after a governor mandated hiatus from any school activity. Some 90-100 students showed up Monday night on the football field for some much needed time at their high school. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

Once inside the stadium the early-arriving student-athletes socialized readily in small groups and relaxed on the carpet of thick grass. Eventually, phys ed teacher and varsity football coach Josh Tremblay instructed them to split up ten yards apart for some warm-up exercises and the first-ever Panther Re-Start was underway.

Athletic Director Ken Dietz put together the program along with his entire coaching staff in an effort to get the Panther athletic summer program off to a safe start after an unusual and unprecedented total halt in all sanctioned activity. With the ability to gather now in groups of no more than 100 outside, just under 90 students came out. Most of them were smiling and excited, some of the freshmen seemed a little quiet and apprehensive, but all of them were ready to get moving again. And boy did they get moving.

Cross-country coach Aaron Weber led several classic runners’ drills on the storied steps of the home bleachers. Meanwhile in the middle of the field volleyball coach Edie Daugherty led an agility drill typical of those used for winter sports. At the east end of the field JV football coach Kevin Eastman led a series of classic defensive-back agility drills while assistant varsity coaches DJ Howley and Vic Fellner used blocking pads on the ground as obstacles to run, jump, and crawl over.

At the west end of the field wrestling coach Dan Isbrecht guided athletes through several ladder drills and boys soccer coach Doug Bornas had the students hopping over exercise hurdles five different ways.

Each exercise ran for three minutes before they took a short break, then three minutes of more work before a break to rotate to the next station. All the while the coaches encouraged the participants to stay separated and hydrated on a perfectly cool and dry evening for exercise.

Each night this week a different set of coaches will choose the exercises, but the goal is a simple one: get the athletes moving again and ready for their regular summer sports workouts and camps.

After a few rotations all the athletes looked appropriately winded, with a few just beginning to wear out a little and others hoping for even more. Hopefully they’ll all make it through the week unscathed and others will be able to attend at least a few of the workouts. Unfortunately the school’s buildings are still closed but coaches are hoping to get complimentary weightlifting sessions going as soon as possible.

Hang in there Panther fans. Judging by what we saw on Monday night we have a lot of good young athletes in the program that should make for some fun and competitive teams over the next few years.

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League

June 15 Golf Report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club:

Weekly Event, Longest Drive on Hole 3 – Sue Pantaleo; Low Gross – Cheryl Hutchins with 47; Low Net – Cheryl Hutchins with 30; Low Putts – Cheryl Hutchins, Sue Pantaleo and Kathy Osborne with 16; Pars – Cheryl Hutchins #13 and #17, Sue Pantaleo #13 and #14; Birdies – Cheryl Hutchins #14, Michelle Metz #14; Chip-ins – Michelle Metz #14


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