Hockey to baseball, the impact felt
SPOONER– The basketball courts are silent in the state of Wisconsin.
There is no sound of squeaking sneakers on the floor, no whistles as referees call the plays, no intoxicating smell of freshly made popcorn as excited fans cheer on their teams during the WIAA Sectionals and State Tournaments.
The fevered frenzy is gone. No encouraging signs held by loud, excited, face-painted fans. No plays drawn up on the sidelines by battle-tested coaches as they guide their boys and girls, young players who have worked so long and hard to get where they are.
Their dreams died this week.
They died because of an unseen micro organism known as coronavirus that is spreading across the entire world, shutting done virtually everything, from sports to restaurants, theatres, concerts, nursing homes, restaurants, schools, anything where people gather and COVID-19 can spread.
Gone also are handshakes, hugs and kisses, most forms of human contact.
Fights have erupted in stores as everything from toilet paper to hand sanitizer to food and ammunition is being hoarded, leaving empty store shelves, confusion and fear.
New world of sports
In the world of sports, everything is gone, postponed or cancelled.
The National Basketball League, professional baseball, the Boston Marathon, numerous professional golf tournaments, car races, college sports, all of it.
In this area, many sports will be impacted by the COVID-19 shutdowns.
High school sports teams from Spooner, Shell Lake, Northwood and everywhere else have their seasons on hold at this point.
And elsewhere, outside of schools in the Northwest, many others are feeling the impact as well.
As the winter snows melt away with the month of March, visions of baseballs and softballs flying through the air and the crack of bats fill many heads.
Youth Baseball coach Donnie Roberts says that so far things remain on schedule for the upcoming season of the Blooming Valley Devils (age 14) and other leagues.
“The Blooming Valley season hasn’t been affected yet,” said Roberts. “Unfortunately, you just don’t know. There is a fear of what is going on, but so far nothing has happened yet.”
The summer baseball season remains distant, though with the snow melt a lot of kids will likely be itching to get out and begin practice in coming weeks as the weather warms and fields dry up.
“We do have a tournament at the end of April,” said Roberts. “As of now, that is still on. There are no answers yet, nobody has ever seen anything like this. Everything is hard to predict. We are flying by the seat of our pants.
“Fear is the worst thing. We start practice once the snow melts, but will parents want to bring their kids to practices?”
On summer weekends in Spooner, hundreds of fans gather to cheer on the Spooner Cardinals of the Independent League.
What does COVID-19 mean for the Cardinals?
“No plans to change anything for the Cardinals yet,” reported Sam Holden, player for the team. “We don’t have any home games until June this year anyway. And even if things are pushed back, we would likely just be cancelling non-league games in May.”
On Facebook, Sophia Lein, general manager of the Spooner-based Superior International Junior Hockey League Wisconsin Lumberjacks, reacted to the sudden cancelation of the SIJHL season, saying on March 13, “Still can’t believe this is the way our inaugural season comes to a close. These boys worked incredibly hard to be a team to be reckoned with on the ice. I’m so proud of Doug Lein and all that he did to bring this team together. We have an incredible group of young men and they have nothing to hang their heads about.”
At the Spooner Civic Center, the staff announced that in addition to the end of hockey season, the gym would be closed until further notice for safety reasons.
“If we can protect one person in the community by doing this, then we are doing our part to protect our employees and the community,” they announced on their Facebook page.