As we wind down to the end of an unprecedented year, I thought it might be therapeutic to look back at the 2020 calendar year from the perspective of Bellaire Athletics to reflect on a time unlike any we’ve ever seen and hopefully won’t repeat.
We start this trip down memory lane as the calendar turned to March. I can still remember watching the NBA on Wednesday, March 11th when Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19 and by the end of the evening, the entire NBA suspended all operations. I had a conversation with Mr. Sherwood the next day about what the possible ramifications could be for our athletic teams could be. On that day, we couldn’t possibly have imagined what the next nine months would bring us.
Immediately, the remaining postseasons for all of the winter sports were cancelled. With the uncertainty surrounding this brand new pandemic, the prognosis for spring sports was not positive. That skepticism was legitimate as all spring sports were permanently cancelled. It was an extremely unfortunate turn of events considering the optimism surrounding all three teams.
The baseball team was set to begin their first season under new head coach Josh Kernik. Optimism was high around this team which was set to combine a solid returning line-up combined with a fantastic freshman class. A senior class led by Cole Porter and Chase Nolan was set to team up with a class of freshman led by Jake Heatherington and Brayden Roth among others. I personally umpired games of that freshman group for the six previous summers and I was beyond excited to see them finally set foot on John Blacker Field.
The softball team was set to begin this first season under new head coach David Menendez. They were looking for great things as well with a senior group led by stalwart Katrina Davis combined with incoming junior pitcher Jayden Lowe and a vaunted freshman class of their own led by Gracelyn Maupin and Allie Ault.
The track and field team could be described in one word: loaded. They had studs in seemingly every discipline. Jacob Defibaugh was set to take care of the distance events while Colt Sechrest was destined to dominate the throwing events. AJ McCarthy looked to continue his dominance in the hurdles while RayRay Pettigrew would have been hard pressed to be beaten in the sprints. That is just a few of the names.
The athletic department quickly decided that something needed to be done to honor the seniors. We came up with the idea of a virtual senior day. I am thankful to the seniors for quietly working with me behind the scenes to help make that story as much of a surprise for their families as we could. It wasn’t ideal but we made the best of a junk situation.
Now we moved towards the fall and even more adjustments were forthcoming. I talked with Mr. Sherwood constantly over the summer about the idea of needing to live-stream games if we had fan limitations. The first camera I looked at was connected with the NFHS Network. I pushed for this camera but using this camera would have required our fans to purchase a monthly subscriptions to NFHS to watch our games. Mr. Sherwood astutely told me that he couldn’t bring himself to ask our fans to pay to watch the live-stream when the pandemic was already negatively impacting so many of our families.
I’ve never been happier in my time working with Mr. Sherwood for him to tell me no. He insisted I needed to try and find a way to live-stream for free. One evening in early August, everything came together. I made a social media post about the prospects of live-streaming and I was immediately contacted by a former alumni offering to anonymously pay for a camera. Within an hour, I received another message from Frank Hibbitts recommending the live-streaming camera that we ended up purchasing. Within a week, we had the anonymous donation and the camera in hand.
We made a commitment to live-stream any game that was burdened with ticket limitations. Aside from just a couple of games, we have held true to that promise. A huge thank you to Scot McMahon, Adam Quirk, Tanner Schmidli, Bryson Cash, Katelyn Hart and Jenna Miller for all of your assistance in helping bring the games to our fans on YouTube. (I hope I didn’t forget anybody)
We are still working through the restrictions and limitations and doing the best we can for our athletes. To finish off this story, I would like to issue a few more thank you’s that I feel should be mentioned.
1) Mr. Sherwood. I can tell you from having a peek from behind the curtain that the dedication and commitment from Mr. Sherwood is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. The stress and headaches of this pandemic have been crazy. He has been everything and more that the Big Reds could have asked for.
2) The fans. There are obvious restrictions and requirements to be able to attend games that have been imposed on all fans. On behalf of the athletic department, I can’t properly put into words how grateful we are for your cooperation and understanding. This also applies to fans of the opposing teams. Everyone has been fantastic following all of the protocols without putting us into uncomfortable situations that we’ve seen play out in other public settings. We are extremely grateful for all of your cooperation.
I know this is kind of rambling and I apologize for that. I just wanted to show our appreciation and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I’ll see ya on YouTube in a week or so.