By LORENZO RECUPERO
It’s the first week of May, it’s just after 2:30pm, the sun is shining and ballparks around the city are filling with young athletes waiting to stretch their muscles and show their stuff on the diamond.
Longtime Crimson Tide softball coach Stacy Schiavo is rolling ground balls to the infielders while her assistants toss balls to batters standing ready at home plate stationed just steps below the main entrance of Everett High School.
Outfielders call to each other to recover the balls battered by contact while Schiavo shouts a reminder of form to a group of girls taking swipes at the balls rolling their way.
That scene was common last year.
This year, there’s no such scene to be seen.
Instead of softball and sunshine on the diamond, the spring of 2020 is sport-less as playing fields remain closed to the public.
Athletes and coaches alike are being forced to remain apart while remaining active.
In essence, coaches are not coaching this season. At least not in the traditional ways that we consider normal.
Coaching on the field this spring has forcibly taken a benching to coaching from afar. Something coach Schiavo and her staff have tried their best to do at a time when being close is hard.
To stay in touch, Schiavo held a meeting with her team online via social media’s Zoom application. In the days before the Zoom meet, she and her staff dropped face masks off on the porches of her players. It was a way for Schiavo to help keep the athletes safe while driving home the idea of team.
“Jen Nigro (assistant coach) and I delivered softball theme masks as a reminder for the girls to take care of them- selves. Also, they are a small token to let them know we miss them,” said Schiavo.
“I texted the girls to come to the door so I could see them when I arrived at each house. Told them not to take pictures or tell the other girls until I sent out a group text. Many of them wrote a small note back to me. Then we all Zoomed later that night and took a picture of us all wearing them.”
The letter for the young athletes, a message of strength and hope, read like this:
“One day you will look back at these masks and realize that even though this virus took away our season, it only made you a stronger person and to never take life for granted.
I know you find yourself in a state of shock and disbelief that this has happened this spring season. Seniors, even more so, considering you won’t get closure to your high school or athletic career. We are all in this together and will come out stronger than ever. We are all here to help each other but also need to be safe. There will be some type of closure when things get better. As much as we are going to miss the season, it is the bond that we will miss the most. Some of the memories we are going to miss are the laughs, dances, singing on the bus rides, and celebrations we shared.
It saddens us to think that the last time we got to see you as a group was just a few days before they suspended the season, at sign ups. That day, Jen and I could see you all beaming knowing this was our year. Unfortunately, this virus took that away from us. We may not get to play in front of fans, parents, college coaches, but we will always have this bond that will keep us connected.
Your dedication to your sport drove you to where you are today. However, the sacrifice you are making during this Pandemic, will make you a better person. The level of work ethic, passion, and dedication will help you all in the future.”
Schiavo, an EHS alumni, says she is committed to try and help find the best way to honor the athletes and graduating seniors in the coming weeks.