Trevor Bryk knew he’d be off the field for a little bit.
In Denmark’s Region 7-4A baseball opener against Blessed Trinity on March 11, Bryk slid into second base and broke his left pinkie finger in the process. He needed surgery to repair the damage and had the procedure done on Friday.
But around the same time, Bryk learned that he wouldn’t be the only one taking a break after the season had been put on hold until at least April due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Even though he would have missed time anyway, Bryk, a senior, was dreading not only missing out on the time with his teammates, but also the possibility that he’d just played his last high school baseball game.
“It sucks because I still want to be out there,” Bryk said. “It's very disheartening, especially for the senior class. It all started swirling around that they'd canceled everything. The whole season is out the window right now. We worked this long for nothing.”
But while the entire season has been a bizarre one, and
there are plenty of emotions among the county’s baseball players, they are
still trying to find ways to stay ready in case the situation improves. With no
coaches allowed to actually conduct practices, though, it’s been challenging.
“It's definitely extremely odd,” Lambert junior Braden Bamburowski said. “It’s one of those things that you hear about from past history, about diseases going around and everything, but this is the first time this has ever happened to us majorly. When we first came into the season, we were just expecting rainouts — we were never expecting something like this to happen.”
Staying conditioned can be as simple as athletes going for runs and doing other workouts on their own. Still, all the closures around them have narrowed some of their preferred options, making things more difficult.
“At the beginning of the week we were still able to go to the gyms, but now most of the gyms are closed,” Bamburowski said. “Me, personally, I've done a lot of running and stuff, so I haven't done too much weight lifting.”
West Forsyth senior Luke Cartenuto has done a lot of the same, running and doing core exercises every day. There’s only so much players can do by themselves, though, and while athletes can’t be on the campuses of their respective schools, they’ve found other places to get work in. When teams get together, they keep the numbers low.
“Team-wise, we've been going to the county community parks like Sharon Springs and doing our own (self-run) practices without coaches and stuff just to stay in shape and keep the chemistry going,” Cartenuto said. “I'm also hitting every day at Midway (Park) and long tossing, throwing bullpens. We actually did get a couple of guys – eight to 10 guys on the West Forsyth team – we went out and did live ABs where pitchers throw to batters, just so we're staying fresh for the season.”
“It's very disheartening, especially for the senior class. It all started swirling around that they'd canceled everything. The whole season is out the window right now. We worked this long for nothing.”Denmark senior Trevor Bryk
And players initially didn’t give up on playing games together, either. When the hiatus was announced, there was an effort in the county to start a ‘sandlot league,’ but that ultimately fell through.
“A bunch of people were reaching out to us about the sandlot league,” Cartenuto said. “There wouldn't be any umpires, no coaches. It would just be a couple kids that would go out and play. We just didn't have enough kids.”
Cartenuto has more to motivate him than just the season, though. He’s still deep in the college recruiting process, and the stoppage in play has robbed him and every other senior in the state of their chance to prove themselves on the field. If there’s even a small chance that Cartenuto gets another shot to play at West, he doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed.
“It's not a good deal for me right now because some colleges were going to come out and look at me in these next couple of weeks,” he said. “I don't know what's going to happen next, so I've just been trying to work as hard as I can, keep getting better and just hope the season can get started again.”