How some young athletes are dealing with the quarantine

By TOM WILLIAMS

This COVID 19 quarantine has frustrated many. Every wise person knows it is the right thing to do but the life changes are still difficult for everybody.

That includes high school and recent high school athletes.

With that in mind, here are the thoughts of some prominent area athletes. Most of their comments are brief and to the point, as though they are likely anxious to get back their workouts or studies. (With the possible exception of Casey McLees, who might have a future as a writer.)

Mainland senior Kevin Antczak is one of the state’s top distance runners who is headed to North Caroline State. 

Antczak: “In the beginning of this time of uncertainty, besides going to school and seeing other people, the only things that have changed for me in a training perspective is that now I do all my runs by myself and from my house – except track workouts (on an open track). Unfortunately now that there is no chance there will be a senior track season, my plan is now to continue following Dan Heyman’s training plan for a few more weeks and then transition over earlier than originally planned to the training plan my college coaches have for me at NC State. Before I switch my training plan I plan to wear the white and kelly green one last time and test myself in an unofficial 3200 meter solo effort on the track. Even though I won’t have people to push me and even if I don’t think I’ll be in shape for what I’m hoping to run, I am going to do my best. I’ve been keeping myself motivated by staying positive and making the best out of this situation while staying away from others.”

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Kevin Antczak

Cedar Creek senior Lou Barrios completed a great career as a quarterback and will attend Pace University.

Barrios: “Dealing with quarantine has been a bit difficult. I miss school and my friends and being able to go into public without a mask. But this pandemic hasn’t stopped me from preparing myself for the next level and finding ways to make myself better. I’ve had numerous Zoom meetings with QB’s attending Pace University to learn the offense and go over certain things. I have also been doing in-home workouts and throwing as much as I can everyday. I try to throw at least twice a week and workout 5-7 days a week. I have a whole bench and squat rack where I can do various things in my basement which helps me a lot in this time. I hope life returns normal soon and things can go back to how they were.”

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Lou Barrios

Ocean City junior Gannon Brady led the CAL in scoring during basketball season, set a school record on the mound last baseball season and has apparently become a fan of Tony, Carmela and Paulie. He will play baseball at Fordham. 

Brady: “It’s been hard but everyone is going through the same thing so I try and be as positive as possible. To stay in shape with limited resources, I’ve had to get creative with different weight exercises, throwing, and sprints. However, I’m also trying to enjoy the free time by watching The Sopranos.”

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Gannon Brady

St. Joseph senior Jada Byers had one of the greatest football careers in South Jersey history. He will move on to Sacred Heart University.

Byers: “I get up and eat, then I shower and go work out. I come home and eat and shower again. I do my school work, take a nap, wake up, eat and work out again. I lift weights either at my uncle’s basement or at my house and try to train where ever we can without getting kicked out of places for not being quarantined We like training at Sunset Lake on the beach.”

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Jada Byers

Holy Spirit sophomore Trevor Cohen was a successful QB in football who will attend Rutgers on a baseball scholarship.

Cohen: “Dealing with quarantine was difficult to start and there is a lot to adjust to. I’ve been working out lifting every day of the week and throwing the football around on weekends. Been trying to stay at it and work on my craft. It’s been a hard adjustment but i couldn’t take time off working on lifting and football.”

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Trevor Cohen

Junior Matt Delaney and sophomore Elmarko Jackson of St. Augustine Prep have cautiously worked out together occasionally. Delaney was the leading rebounder in the CAL and team scoring leader last season and Jackson, the team’s second leading scorer, is also one of the best young lacrosse players in the state.  

Delaney: “I’ve been doing a lot of agility, weightlifting and cardio work. I’m thankful that it never got too bad, and we are able to still do things with our families and I’m excited to getting back on the court with my team soon because we have all been preparing during this time. Luckily my two older brothers – Timmy,  who  played at Villanova, and Andrew, who is playing at Adelphi University – are around so we have a lot of training going on in our backyard and in the weight room in the garage. The only thing that gets in the way is the amount of rain that we have had!”

Jackson: “During quarantine I’ve been trying to stay in shape by working out everyday. This includes shooting on the basketball court, lifting weights and going on runs. It’s hard to stay on the top of my game because of the lack of indoor gym access but, I am trying my best to make sure when we get back out on the court I will be ready to play. It definitely sucks missing the lacrosse season because we had a very promising team led by quality seniors who could’ve led us to a state championship.” 

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Elmarko Jackson, Matt Delaney and Andrew Delaney, six feet apart, each with his own basketball in what seems to be a backyard version of the Wells Fargo Center

Ocean City graduate Danielle Donoghue, the OCHS Lacrosse Player of the Decade and a basketball all star, missed out on her freshman lacrosse season at Mount St. Mary’s.

Donoghue: “Losing out on my freshman season has been tough. I was just starting to get into a routine and adjusting to that level of play. Our team as a whole was also just starting to get into the groove of games and playing with one another. It is an extremely unfortunate event that has occurred but I’m lucky enough to still have 3 more years, maybe even an extra year. Adjusting to online learning has been difficult, but my teachers have been very helpful and supportive. My teammates and coaches have also been extremely helpful during this time. Despite having to be quarantined, i’ve been able to stay active and stay on top of my workouts. I’m excited to hopefully get back to school soon and start play lacrosse again.”

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Danielle Donoghue

Holy Spirit senior Tom Finan was a defensive football all star for two years who will play at The College of New Jersey. 

Finan: “With Lacrosse season canceled, I am preparing to play football at TCNJ in the fall. Working out has been different with gyms and facilities closed. We schedule workouts in the afternoon as we would for after school sports activities. For weight lifting, we use an old family weight bench and dumbbells.  We add some variety by doing beach work-outs, field sprints and stadium stairs at the empty Ed Byrnes Stadium.  My 2 younger brothers work out with me, which helps us all stay motivated.”
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Tom Finan

Ocean City sophomore Tom Finnegan was a key basketball player and a strong pitcher who has committed to play baseball at Vanderbilt.

Finnegan: “I have been dealing with quarantine by staying home and working out in my garage. Also I’ve been throwing with my little brother every day to keep my arm in shape.”

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Tom Finnegan

St. Augustine senior Kevin Foreman is a successful two-sport athlete (basketball-baseball) who lost his final baseball season to the virus.

Foreman: “As you can imagine, there has been a lot of emotion and unexpected frustration since March 13th. We have classes 4 days a week, usually from about 9-12. (Never realized how much I love to actually GO to school). A lot of driveway basketball with my brothers in competitive H-O-R-S-E. Batting practice with my dad as much as possible at a nearby field (can’t tell you where because then it might get shutdown). Biking/lifting/running (5:00 mile time now). Way too much Netflix. Keeping as many options open for college and athletics as possible. I miss my classmates, my teammates, the laughs and the competition we all love on the field with the music, the crowds, and the intense rivalries we have with many teams in the entire state.”

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Kevin Foreman

 

Ocean City junior Brad Jamison was a two-way star in football and a starter in basketball who led the team in assists.

Jamison: “During the quarantine I have been lifting in our shed. My dad bought some weights when everything shut down. I have been jogging and running patterns, throwing the ball around with my brother. Plus staying busy with school work.”

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Brad Jamison

Ocean City graduate Sean Mooney was an All-Big East pitcher at St. John’s who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins.

Mooney: “I keep finding different places to throw and I bought a home gym so I’m able to lift and work out.”
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Sean Mooney
Ocean City junior Tara McNally is a field hockey all star who has committed to Hofstra University. 
McNally: “Quarantine is just filled with working out and school work. Every morning I wake up usually to a class or two on Zoom and then after that I work out. Usually I run outside when the weather is nice but if it’s not I run on the treadmill we have. I also play field hockey everyday hopefully outside or if not in my basement. Having my sister home definitely helps a lot since I have someone close to my age to talk to and to also help me out with field hockey. The rest of the day is filled with other school worked assigned for the day and that’s about it. Hopefully all this working out pays off for this field hockey season.”
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Tara McNally’s obstacle course
Ocean City junior Matt Nunan had a strong season on the mound last spring and committed to Boston College.

Nunan: “Quarantine has been a tedious and boring time. That is one thing we can all agree on. But, it can also be a time where you can be productive and use the free time to the best of your advantage. You can pick up a new hobby or try something different than you normally would. You could read a book (even though that sounds boring, too). The whole point is that you shouldn’t just be sitting around moping during this time. I know for myself I’ve tried to stay busy and productive. At the beginning of quarantine I would play basketball with friends or go golfing. But once they closed down everything I had to find something to occupy my time. Thankfully my brother is home so we can play catch and workout together. I know other kids are trying to get better during this time to so I can’t fall behind the competition.”

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Matt Nunan

Ocean City junior Alexa Palmieri has had a great running career despite injuries.

Palmieri: “Dealing with quarantine has been different, to say the least.  There are pros and cons, but I’ve chosen to see everything in a positive light.  Of course, I had to adapt to a different training schedule and find new places to run, but quarantine has also given me more time to focus on myself and to allow my body to heal.  I never really had this much time to recover after my runs or to just sleep in general, and my body loves it.  It stinks having to miss another spring track season (since I missed last year due to my injury), but I’m choosing to take advantage of this situation and using this time to help my body heal.  It’s also nice getting to complete my school work on my own time and getting to eat better now that I have the time to actually look up recipes and make my own meals.  I appreciate all of the work that my team has put into this season both before and during quarantine, and I’m sad to see it come to such an abrupt end.  Now that I’ve been running solo,  I understand even more just how important a team is,  and I appreciate my teammates and coaches now more than ever.  Saying I miss them would be an understatement.  It’s definitely not easy being apart from everyone, but it’s important to stay focused on mental and physical health during these trying times and to keep putting in the work for when this is all over.  I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.”

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Alexa Palmieri

Ocean City junior Joe Repetti set school records as a QB last fall, was the point guard on the basketball team and would have been the catcher on the baseball team if he had not inured his back.  

Repetti: “During the quarantine, I have been throwing in my yard with my brother, Shawn. I’ve already begun looking at film on both Holy Spirit and Hammonton. I’ve been doing some body weight workouts too. I’ve tried to spend as much time as I could outside to make the best of the situation we are presented with at this time.”

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Joe Repetti

 

Ocean City graduate Tori Rolls was a first team NJAC all star and conference Rookie of the Year in girls soccer as a freshman at Montclair State.

Rolls: “I don’t think I’ve worked out more in my life than during this quarantine. With my spring soccer season being cancelled, I’ve been trying my best to stay in shape as much as possible. Even though those chips are calling my name, I tell myself it’s not worth it. I can’t forget about my school work – only three more finals and then I’m a sophomore in college.”

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Middle Township senior Kira Sides is one of South Jersey’s most accomplished athletes in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She will attend LaSalle for lacrosse.

Sides: “I’ve been doing intervals on the track, lifting, practicing lacrosse on my rebounder and shooting on my net. I’m also working at Osborne’s, delivering furniture.”

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Kira Sides
Ocean City senior Casey McLees is a championship runner who will also attend LaSalle.

McLees: Honestly, this has all been pretty rough for me mentally. I’ve been handling it effectively by leaning on what I know best: running. Running is my coping mechanism because I see it as such a release, it is meditative to go out and do what I love. I’m thankful that I can practice my sport at home because so many other sports don’t have the same opportunity. However, it is definitely not the same without my teammates there to push me and add some fun to my favorite part of the day. Running on my own the past 50 days (and counting) has taught me the importance of my teammates and coaches and the support we have for each other. Nonetheless, I have been keeping up with training by running 6-7 days a week and I strength train in my new garage gym 2-3 days a week. Additionally, I’ve been keeping up with my virtual classes and last marking period my grades were the highest they have been all of high school with a GPA of 4.6. Still finding myself with extra time at the end of the day, I have taken up practicing yoga a couple days a week. I think it’s great for recovery and cross training and I’ve really been enjoying it being a new part of my daily routine. By finding things like yoga, I’ve realize that having this extra time can have it’s benefits if you try to take advantage of the situation. Nevertheless, it is hard.

“After receiving the news this past Monday that we will not be returning to school I was heartbroken. My mind immediately went to my spring track season as it is my last season of high school. I’m very upset that I won’t have an opportunity to beat my PRs and accomplish the goals I have set for myself over the past 4 years. It also troubles me that I won’t be able to receive my 4th varsity letter for spring track. It has always been a goal of mine to receive 12 varsity letters in high school, and I have made it so far to get cut short at 11. Perhaps, what upsets me the most is that I won’t have the final moments with my team that I’ve always imagined. I would give anything to go back to just one more meet just to take everything in. I have spent the past 4 years falling in love with not only the sport and the community, but the environment that surrounds track and field and cross country. There is such a positive and exciting energy when you step on the track at any meet and I’m sad I didn’t get to take that in and really appreciate it as much as I should have. The pain that I feel knowing that I ran my last race of high school without knowing that it was it… it’s indescribable. If I knew that my last meet in winter track would be the last meet I’d run in high school, this would certainly be a different story; but, I don’t feel ready to let go yet. Many of us seniors are feeling this same way so our underclassmen teammates stepped up to support us. I’m so thankful to have such beautiful, talented, and loving teammates. On the Monday morning at 9:00 AM, before we heard Governor Murphy’s message that school would be closed, our spring track coach, Mr. Cook, sent out a film composed by one of the underclassman, Erin Hanlon. She created a compilation of videos from my teammates thanking and commiserating with us seniors. My teammates said the nicest things and truly showed me how considerate and charismatic our team is. The thoughtful video provided me with some of the closure I needed. The Ocean City track and field and cross country teams are truly the nicest girls you will ever meet and the best friends I will ever have. I’m so grateful to be a part of this family.
“I have been running competitively since 6th grade so I have made and accomplished many, many goals over the years. But there are still some that I was hoping to accomplish this final season. Both my coaches and I were certain that this was going to be my season to accomplish everything I have hoped for as I keep increasing my training intensity and learning how to run faster. Although I’m very upset that I will never have another opportunity to compete with my teammates at OCHS or in a high school race, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to run next year at the Division I level for LaSalle University. I’m incredibly excited and humbled to be taking on this next chapter of my life and can’t wait for what the future has in store for me. As much as this is the end of an era in my life, it’s also the beginning of a new one.”
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Casey McLees, with her LaSalle flag hanging proudly
It sounds like, though frustrated, these talented student-athletes are making the best of a bad situation. We will visit with some more in a few weeks.

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