Today is March 30th, 2020. It's a Monday. It's not a holiday, it's a work day. I woke up this morning at 5:15 A.M. as I normally do during the school year. I got in the shower, got out and got ready for the day. I did the normal guy thing and patted my pockets as I headed toward the door. Wallet? Keys? Phone?... Check, check, check. I was ready for the day. As I headed down the stairs from my third story condo, I started to think just how weird it was that even though I was up early, I was out the door early, and I was headed to work early, that I wasn't headed in to teach. Coronavirus, COVID-19, had changed what my day was going to be like. Instead of teaching, I was headed to coach.
As I drove toward the park watching the sunrise like I do most mornings on the way to work, I thought to myself how lucky I was to be healthy, to be employed still, and to be headed to one of my favorite places to be. Horizon Park. practice would be a little bit different today as we practiced social distancing, as we tried our very best to give kids something positive to do even though we could all feel the madness of what was going on in the world literally infecting every aspect of our lives.
As kids arrive at practice, normally they are so excited to see each other that they greet each other with huge hugs. Today they filed in one by one to designated spots on the sand that were more than 10 feet apart so that they could stay within the guidelines of the CDC. Kids each used only one ball at practice. We focused on individual touches. No one high gave high fives, no one touched the same equipment, and no one came in contact with each other. As we went through our workout many of the girls expressed how even though they were doing conditioning at 6:00 in the morning, it was just nice to be out again. We had canceled practice for two straight weeks trying to figure out what we could and couldn't do. We finally felt like we had a great plan!
Practice went off beautifully. The girls were laughing and having a great time. We did some individual challenges at the end that brought out their skills along with their personalities. It was awesome! As each girl tossed their ball, one by one, to coach Ryan to clean with bleach, they smiled, they laughed, and because they are the amazing young ladies that they are, they said thank you. We walked out to the parking lot with all of the equipment and I said goodbye to Ryan. I had to rush off for a virtual staff meeting to try to figure out what school was going to be like.
When I arrived home, I logged into the computer. As I was signing into the meeting, I looked at my phone and there it was. "Ducey Cancels School For the Remainder of the School Year". Just like that, school as we knew it was over for the 2019-2020 school year. As much as I had kind of expected it, I wasn't prepared for it.
When the meeting was over, I logged onto my social media. Bam! Another headline. "Ducey Orders Stay-At-Home". Wow! This day is just full of them! I immediately got on the phone with Ryan to start to figure out a plan of action. While he canceled the practices we had planned, I got on to write an email. How do you tell parents and kids more bad news? How do you let them down yet again? At this point our hands were tied. There was nothing else we could do.
Look back at the title of this post. How can THAT be the title when it would seem obvious that Coronavirus had defeated us? Well, I'll tell you. No sooner had that email hit people's inboxes than we received an outpouring of support from the families of the kids we coach. Positive messages. Messages saying thank you for the effort. Messages with the #RPMfamily4life written into them. It was amazing. No, it was inspiring.
Ryan had made a comment at practice about how we were pretty good at getting creative and thinking on our feet about things. We got to work and created something. We can't wait to get it out there for our athletes and when all is said and done, I will come back to this post, edit it, and tell you what we did. Coronavirus has not defested us though. Our players are our lifeblood. They are our inspiration, and they are the reason that no matter how tough things get, we can ALWAYS make it through. Coach Marc can attest to that after his open heart surgery. I can attest to that after losing both my niece and my nephew and my own hospital visit last summer. Coach Ryan, Coach Pete... We ALL look forward to the times we will get to spend with out feet in the sand watching incredible young athletes do their thing. So no, Coronavirus did not win because it can NOT break our spirit. Because alone we may be weak, but together, we are unbreakable!
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