With the two-week suspension in full effect, Park City athletes staying in shape through designed workouts
Unprecedented is the word most commonly used to describe the situation Summit County high schools and their athletes find themselves in. And according to Park City High School lacrosse coach Michael Persky, it’s not just the locals throwing that word around.
“I’ve been speaking to other coaches in the state, and throughout the country as well, and the one thing everything is saying is how this is all unprecedented,” Persky said. “I’ve never been a part of something like this and it’s pretty crazy, and sad to think about. It’s like having the rug pulled out from under us, but we understand why at the same time.”
A lot has changed since Thursday afternoon when news first broke when the Utah High School Athletic Association announced that all spring activities would be suspended for at least two weeks due to the outbreak and spreading of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, set to begin last Monday.
“In consultation with board directives and information provided by state public health officials, the UHSAA has suspended spring activities to properly fulfill best practices regarding protection of students and the general public,” the association said in a statement. “More information will be sent to member schools and/or districts as it becomes available.”
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Since then, Governor Herbert announced the shutdown of all K-12 schools in the state of Utah for two weeks beginning on Monday as well. It was then announced on Sunday that Summit County would essentially be shutdown until April 16, with a reevaluation of the situation after 14 days.
Park City’s spring coaches have all had time to adapt to the situation — which has not been easy for any of them given the gravity of the pandemic.
“I really think the boys understand what’s going on out there. … I hope all the athletes are taking it serious with their social distancing,” said David Feasler, Park City’s baseball coach. “If they do that, it might give themselves a better chance to resume playing again, which has got to be the ultimate goal for all of us apart from everyone being healthy.”
With school, team practices and games canceled for the next 14 days, the coaches have been faced with finding ways to keep their players engaged and healthy.
So for most of the coaches, they’ve all decided separately that while the two-week cancellation was the correct move, they’ve implemented different training regimens to keep their athletes focused in so they’ll be ready to go when or if the season resumes.
“We’ve been working so hard on our conditioning up to this point and now we don’t want to lose it because it’s probably one our strengths,” said Lucy Mower, Park City girls lacrosse coach. “We want to stay optimistic and think we will be able to just jump back into the season if it happens. We want to make sure we’ll be ready to go. … But we don’t want to be where we left off when this happened, but more prepared.”
For Brett Mustoe, Park City’s softball coach, he’s focusing on the mental side of things for his players.
While he has put together a plan for his girls, mainly focusing on stretching, running, throwing and some other “everyday” drills at least three to five times a week, he’s also giving them some version of athletics homework.
“We are optimistic they can get things going again so we need to do some of the basic things to stay sharp,” Mustoe said. “I’m going to give them some videos to watch and have homework associated with those videos to see what they’ve learned by watching them.”
Persky has also taken on the idea of sending videos to the boys, wanting them to watch the videos and find different aspects of their games and what they’re trying to become.
“I think it’s great to show the boys videos of what they’ve accomplished in the past because not only does it keep them focused, it also shows them how much they’ve grown in the short amount of time this year,” Persky said. “It’s also good to send them videos of other top programs so they can see what they can become as well. There’s not much else we can do so it’s about keeping them engaged in lacrosse.”
Dave Yocum, one of Park City’s track and field coaches, has a tough challenge ahead of him to keep his athletes engaged, as he’s responsible for well over 100 of them.
He’s divided up workout plans in three factions with cross-country coach Steve Cuttitta taking over the distance runners, assistant football coach Dalton Bolger working with the throwers and Yocum working with the sprinters and the jumpers.
“Obviously we can’t be there with the kids, but we’ve given them workout plans to do. … A lot of which are based solely on efforts of the kids,” said Yocum. “If we can get the kids doing that, if they have enough perseverance to push through and demand more from themselves, it’ll benefit them psychologically a ton in the end. They have to learn to persevere because if they do, they’ll not only be ready for if we return to action, they’ll be better in life in general.”
Regardless of the plans each coach has sent out to their respective athletes, they’re all hoping to give the seniors one more chance to get out and play in the respective sports. The kids have worked their entire high school careers for this season, so being cut short is a hard pill to swallow — and now it’s about making sure they’re ready for when they get the call to play again.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.