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Empty fields of silence

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Coping with the COVID-19 shutdown of spring sports in Jones County

  • Empty fields of silence
    No one is playing soccer at Greyhound Stadium with schools closed to combat the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the nation.
  • Empty fields of silence
    CHUCK THOMPSON/Staff The flag still flies over the home of the Hounds, but no one is there to yell ‘Play ball.’
  • Empty fields of silence
    The grass has been cut and the infield dirt has been smoothed, but no one runs the bases at the Jones County High School baseball field.

The grass has been cut and the flag still flies above the scoreboard at the Jones County High School baseball field.

But no one runs the bases, and there is no “batter, batter, batter” chatter, or anyone throwing pitches or diving for sharp grounders.

Kids should be kicking a soccer ball up and down the field over at Greyhound Stadium, and goal keepers leaping to stop hot shots.

But no one is there. Only the wind ruffles the nets in the goals, and no shouts echo around the stadium.

Flowers and trees bloom, but it is a silent spring for those who play sports in Jones County, and around the nation.

The coronavirus arrived, and everything was shut down.

A week into what was supposed to be a two-week hiatus, Jones County’s coaches were still trying to adjust, and wondering if the spring seasons will ever resume.

“I’ve just been sitting and listening like everybody else,” said Jones County baseball coach Jason Page.

“When it was announced we were stopping, it was to be for two weeks. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see it will likely be longer. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to finish the season.

“I hate it the most for our seniors. They’ve been working six years, some of them, for this chance to play with the varsity. And now they have to stop. I hate it for them and their parents, because the one thing you can’t give back is time.”

Mikayla Greene, coach of the JCHS girls’ soccer team, said much the same.

“Girls keep calling, asking can they go practice on their own. I have to tell them no. We want them to be safe, so that means not being together.

“It just breaks my heart, especially for the seniors,” she said. “They’re holding out hope we’ll be able to start back sometime, but I don’t know. It isn’t looking good, but I don’t have the heart to tell them that.”

Adding to the frustration is that the weather has finally been what spring sports participants and fans are supposed to enjoy.

“Oh, man, it was so nice all last week,” Page said. “We had so much rain and bad weather early in the season, and now we get the good weather and can’t play.”

The coaches say they have been focused on their families during this forced exile from teaching and coaching, but they ache for their players with no games to play.

“Most of all, we want them to be safe. In the grand scheme of life, there is a lot that is more important than baseball or sports,” Page said.

“But you still miss it. I’ve always thought sports help you deal with all the other things going on around you, provide some fun and an outlet for those who play and those who watch them play.”

But for now, there are no team sports for a diversion.

Playing catch or kicking a ball around the backyard will have to do.