Hernando County Athletic Directors and Coaches Share Their Thoughts
Photography by Alice Mary Herden
HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla.-- Not only did the sudden curtailing of the spring sports season affect the athletes, it also took an emotional toll on the coaches and athletic directors.
These coaches watched and helped these kids grow athletically, some since their freshman year.
Patrick McHugh Weeki Wachee High School Athletic Director and Baseball Coach
“As a baseball coach, this sudden stoppage has hit very close to home. I feel for all of my players who lost a season of their high school career.
“Underclassmen, on the other hand, have lost out on a year of progress. JV players will have to be moved to varsity teams next with less game experience than ever before. Seniors have been the most talked about and rightfully so, they won't have the chance to ever take the field again representing their school. They'll never take the field again with their peers that they have played with their whole life. They miss out on senior's night and the ability to compete for a District championship. The class of 2020 will be remembered for what could have been. When I was informed of the decision via Facebook that athletics was canceled, I had a hard time sending it to my team. It especially hurts to know that I won't have the chance to fill out a lineup card that has Collin Greer, Jonathan Melendez, Alex Herzek, Edward Serralles, Luciano Leo, Dante Canale, Wil Rodriguez, Robby Hill, or Zach Stone on it ever again.”
Springstead High School Athletic Director Dustin Kupcik
On April 1, Athletic Director Dustin Kupcik published a post directed to all those Springstead student-athletes whose season had been shut down
“Dear Springstead Student-Athletes,
“It is with great disappointment and frustration that I must confirm, that per the Hernando County School District, ALL sports have been canceled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. According to the FHSAA, there are some scenarios that could alter this, but at this time we must plan as though we are shut down for the remainder of the school year. While I was not a part of the conversation to make the difficult final call to shut things down, I understand the need to do this. Your health and safety are always at the top of my priority list, and this situation is no different. This is bigger than a track meet, tennis match or softball game. What we are doing is actually helping our community, state, and country to “flatten the curve” and save lives.
That being said, I am not going to sugar coat it, this sucks! I get it, your coaches get it. Believe it or not, we were all student-athletes once upon a time, just like you. I must admit, I have waited a few days to put something out because I was hoping it was a mistake and maybe the county would put out an amended announcement. I also was really at a loss for words. The day after I heard the news, I went for a run by myself around my neighborhood to get out some of my anger and frustration. When I finished, I just sat down in my front yard and took it all in. I recognized at that point that nothing I say is going to make things better. As much as I want to fix it for you all, I can’t. You have a right to be angry and a right to be disappointed. I know how hard you all work. I know the sacrifices, the time, the dedication, the blood, the sweat and the tears you all put into your respective sports and programs. It’s as if something was stolen from you. My heart breaks for our Seniors. I think about Track athletes like Charlize Soares, Stephanie Triantafillou, Anthony Alexis, Sean Fribbley and Kyle Desmond. Tennis stars Haley Palmer and Kayleigh Marquart. Baseballers and Softballers Bryce Holmes, Chuck Novick, Joey Hopper, Joe Berry, Jenna Ryan, and Hannah Rizzuto. I know I am missing so many more. The Class of 2020 has represented the navy, red and white of Springstead well throughout your careers, both on and off the field. What you all have been a part of and what you have accomplished over the past 4 years is truly special. This circumstance will not change that. I thank you all for your work ethic, character, and leadership as well as your academic and athletic performances throughout your time here at The Stead. I know you will all carry those traits, attributes and lessons learned on the field, track, and court, along with that Springstead “S” on your chest, throughout your future endeavors.
“In this unprecedented time, I challenge all of our Eagle student-athletes to be leaders at home and in our community. Think of this situation just as you would any other challenge you have worked through and conquered in the past. We must step up for our parents, grandparents, and siblings. Wash a load of dishes without being asked or do an extra load of laundry. Babysit your younger siblings while parents are working. Maybe help them with their online school work. Perhaps teach them, or heck even your parents, how to properly wash their hands. Be self-motivated with your online schooling, take care of your business. Practice “social(physical)-distancing” and follow those CDC guidelines. Facetime your grandparents, it will make their day. Heck, write them a letter or card and mail it to them(insert head exploding emoji). If you need assistance with that, let me know. Facetime your friends, teammates, and coaches. Even though we are a part, people still need people. Communicate as much as you can with those you love.
“As many have already said, we will get through this together in Eagle Country. I can't wait for the first home game when things get back to normal. The stands will be packed, the crowd will be electric, and the competition will be relentless. Sports matter. Sports play a vital part in the education process. Sports build the school and community spirit and togetherness. Sports forge relationships that outside of a huddle, sideline or dugout, would never even exist. We will be back and better than ever. And when we do, I challenge all of you underclassmen to grind and compete harder than you ever have before. Your seasons will take on new meaning. You will be working and playing for these 2020 Seniors.
“I care deeply about each and every one of our over 500 Springstead student-athletes. Please make good choices, stay safe and stay well. If you are in need or have any questions or concerns, please do not be afraid to reach out. There are brighter days to come and I can’t wait for Springstead Athletics to be a part of them. GO EAGLES!”