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Coaching high school basketball has its challenges. Dealing with the 15-18-year-olds of today surely has its moments. Then you throw in a global pandemic. Where do I begin? Everything has changed. The entire landscape. I am not going to lie — it has been a struggle. These are uncharted waters. Every team is in the same boat.

The boys and I are doing our best. We wear our masks and prepare for the unknown. The team remains optimistic but understand the complexities of the situation. I will give them credit. Our schedule changes daily. It’s hard to find a rhythm. The Knights have been very fortunate to get in five games thus far. I know it sounds cliche, but every time we lace them up it could be our last. That is a tough conversation to have before every practice. Fingers are crossed. 

Wearing a mask on the floor is easier said than done. We are getting used to it, but it is no fun. The Knights have been following several new protocols since early August. We check temperatures and do our best to maintain our social distance. Games are different as it’s hard to maintain six feet of separation. Yet some of my guys make Dr. Fauci proud while they are on defense. I thought that was funny. 

The new normal is quite awkward. Most venues only allow a handful. Two tickets per each player. Home team fans only. It feels more like a practice. Visitors have to watch online if they are lucky. I am selling my two tickets for the Loyalsock game on eBay. Another joke. But seriously my phone rings off the hook. 

The gyms are eerily silent. You can hear every sneaker squeak and an occasional whistle. I am a very loud coach. I like to cheer and yell. My voice now carries. I get a lot of strange looks when we are on the road. Older ladies love to tell me to sit down and shut up.

We have assigned seats and never stop to eat anymore. COVID has changed how we do things. The boys continue to ask every time. Sorry guys. We can’t just roll into McDonald’s with 22 players and coaches. It’s hard.

This is my first year as the head coach at Saint John Neumann. It has been an interesting ride. Yes. We have talent but we are nowhere close to our potential. We are almost halfway through our season. The guys are still getting used to me and my system. Remember, we had very little contact this summer. No summer leagues. No team camp. Just a few open gyms. Practices were going well and then we had to shut down. Resumed everything in January and immediately started playing games. Sometimes four nights a week. 

I am very thankful for the opportunity. Many others aren’t as lucky. I have several coaching friends all over the country. High school. College. Boys and girls. Most of them aren’t even playing. I struggle to keep this in perspective. Especially when we get called for a foul or miss a rebound. It’s hard. 

Kudos to all of the local teams that are in the same situation. There is never a dull moment with COVID hoops. Hopefully we all can continue to stay safe. Best of luck to all of you. This season is unprecedented. Cheers

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