By TOM WILLIAMS
The COVID 19 quarantine continues to frustrate people of all ages. Every wise person knows it is the right thing to do but the life changes are still difficult for everybody.
Especially high school and recent high school athletes.
Two weeks ago, some prominent area athletes presented their thoughts about the situation and what they are doing. You can read their thoughts here. That was a popular piece, so why not do it again?
Here are the thoughts of some more prominent area athletes.
Emma Finnegan was a force inside for Ocean City basketball for four seasons with all four teams reaching the South Jersey final, three winning the championship. She was also a big part of the school’s success in crew and will next row for Rutgers.
Finnegan: “During this quarantine instead of making myself isolated from the things I love, I am making the people I love original pieces of art. All the wood I use is from dumpsters and recycled material I find while riding bikes around Ocean City. I use this wood to create art for special people in my life to help brighten their day. This sign was for Denny DiOrio who has been a huge supporter of Ocean City sport teams for countless years. To see a smile on his face really helps me deal with the quarantine and to continue to be optimistic.”
Brian Beckmann was a successful athlete on the football and baseball teams at Ocean City. Known for his spectacular catches in football, he will play the sport at Widener.
Beckmann: “During quarantine I’ve been doing workouts with a few other football players from around the area and working out at home to get ready for college football at Widener while staying on top of school work.”
Najee Coursey overcame injuries to score more than 1,000 points for Cedar Creek in a career filled with three-pointers and impressive dunks.
Andrew Donoghue set Ocean City High School’s career record for passing yardage and threw for 1,781 yards as a junior at The College of New Jersey, the seventh highest total in the school’s 98-season history.
Donoghue: “One of the worst parts of our semester getting moved to a completely virtual platform was the fact that we missed our entire spring football season. Spring practices are not only important to us because of our training program, but we also get crucial reps running plays and building chemistry. Although we may not all be together, our strength and conditioning coach creates and sends out packets of at-home exercises we can all follow. I’ve also been in contact with the offensive coaches, meeting about what would have been installed in the spring. The quarantine has allowed us players to focus on getting more mental reps than we normally would have, which will pay off during summer camp and the regular season when we can hit the ground running. Watching this season end abruptly for many of my classmates involved in spring sports hits home for me. Playing sports my whole life I’ve always looked forward to getting ready for the next season coming up and this pandemic has made me realize that this is the final rodeo for me and I cannot take this season for granted. I’m looking forward to the last season on the turf and all the memories that will come.”
Abbey Fenton, who is headed for Cabrini College, has played in eight South Jersey championship games for Ocean City in soccer, basketball and lacrosse, setting school records in all three.
Joe Glenn had a successful career in basketball and crew at Holy Spirit. The 6-8 senior will further his crew career at Drexel University.
Noel Gonzalez will enter his senior year at Pleasantville after three successful basketball and track seasons in the CAL.
Gonzalez: “Personally, I believe that quarantine was the right thing to do because it prevented more of an outbreak. People don’t appreciate quarantine and don’t take it seriously when, in reality, it is protecting us from the disease. Although I feel that the quarantine was needed, it is also heartbreaking for those graduating seniors and especially seniors who play spring sports. I had a friend who had a chance of making Pleasantville history in baseball. If the season wouldn’t have been cancelled, he would have been the first person in Pleasantville High School history to achieve 100 hits in baseball. There are also a lot of seniors who didn’t receive a scholarship because their sport got cancelled and they couldn’t have a breakout senior year. In other words, even though quarantine was made to protect us, it also led to many heartbreaking outcomes.
E’lijah Gray had a remarkable football career at Holy Spirit, scoring 53 touchdowns and rushing for more than 4,000 yards. He will move on to Merrimack College.
Kate Herlihy has been outstanding in three sports during her first three years at Middle Township, including more than 1,000 points in basketball.
Patrick Holden averaged 8.4 points, shot 81% from the foul line and was second on the team in assists as a Widener sophomore after scoring more than 2,000 points at Lower Cape May.
Holden: “I actually haven’t been doing much. I’ve been working off a couple injuries I’ve had since the season. Just physical therapy and stretching trying to gain flexibility. And now that rules and restrictions on social distancing are changing, I’m actually going to see a doctor next week.”
Destin Lasco dominated New Jersey swimming for three years at Mainland and qualified for the Olympic Trials in six events. He passed up his senior season with the Mustangs to train for the trials, which have now been postponed a year. He will attend Cal-Berkeley.
Lasco: “Everything is going well with training at the moment. Overall, I train around two and a half hours, six times a week. With my strength trainer, Dave Klemic, I do three dryland workouts a week. On Monday we do general strength, Wednesday it’s plyometrics, and on Friday we do Olympic lifting. On the other days (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) I do calisthenics with core and flexibility . This is dry land alone. On the swimming side, I swim for an hour five times a week focusing on technique, pulling and kicking.”
Max Melton had an impressive football season and was also a success in track for Cedar Creek. He has committed to Rutgers for football.
Melton: “I’ve been working with and around this pandemic is find fields and little spots of land to work out with a small handful of people. It was unfortunate coming home for spring break and not heading back to Rutgers so I have to stay in the groove by working out with other college level athletes. There have only been a few times when we got kicked off but it was worth it. I would take that over skipping a beat with my craft.”
Dan Nunan was a force on the mound for Ocean City’s baseball team. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels and is in their minor league system.
Nunan: “It’s taken some time to adjust to the situation we’re all in, but I haven’t let it get in the way of my training. I’m blessed to have a brother who always wants to compete with me. We’ve been going to different fields to run and throw and we’ve been lifting in our garage. While there’s a lot of uncertainty when/if baseball will be played this year, I know I’ll be ready to go whenever it happens.”
Paige Ortzman is one of the most impressive rowers in South Jersey at Mainland. From among an elite list of colleges pursuing her, she has decided to row at UCLA.
Ciani Redd-Howard was nominated to the McDonald’s All-American team after a successful basketball career that ended with her leading Atlantic City to the championship of the CAL Tournament. She will move on to Penn State-Harrisburg.
Mike Rhodes is a three-sport junior at Ocean City (football, basketball and track) who has been successful in all three seasons.
Rhodes: “Recently my Pops and I built a weight rack so I am going to use that every day to lift with a certain workout plan. Also, I would help my Pops with construction for our house. And I try to sneak over to the courts to shoot a few free throws.”
Gabby Turco scored more than 1,000 points for Wildwood Catholic and will take her basketball skills to St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.
Turco: “During this time it has been very hard to keep a positive mindset but working out is a great way for me to get my mind off all the bad that is going on. I have been running and doing individual workouts as well as getting better with my basketball trainer, T-John Casiello, a few days a week. Push-ups and planks have been a go to workout, as well. One of my favorite ball handling drills I have been working with is dribbling with a plastic bag over the ball. This has helped me improve my touch of the ball.”
Kylee Watson was the most heralded girls basketball player in CAL history – the league’s first McDonald’s All-American and Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year. She scored over 2,000 points and grabbed more than 1,000 rebounds. She will play for the University of Oregon, ranked #2 in the nation, starting next season.
Watson: “I should be in places like Houston for the McDonald’s All-American game, Chicago for the Jordan Brand Classic, Colorado Springs for Team USA trials. But most importantly—my high school field for graduation. I should be enjoying my senior year and all the memories that accompany it. I should be living in the best years of my life. But instead, I am home. Quarantined. All the things I had dreamed of since I was young were suddenly taken away from me in a way that didn’t quite seem real.
“I was upset at first, like I’m sure every other person in the world who had something stripped from them due to this virus. But I had to look at the bigger picture. I had to look at the thousands of people who lost their brother, father, mother – any loved one – to this virus. I had to look at the thousands of homeless people and families who have nothing. The people who lost their jobs and are fighting on a daily basis to support themselves and their family. The list continues on and on. I had to recognize I was blessed. I was blessed to still have the ability to play basketball regardless of the situation and have a stable home where I can spend time with my family before I’m off to college.
“In regards to myself as an athlete, I think I can speak for the majority that it is quite honestly unlike anything we have ever done before. For me, any other year around this time I would be training in a basketball gym several days a week, working on my strength and conditioning inside somewhere and traveling around the country – pretty much doing the exact opposite of what I’m doing now. I’m training outside at my Middle School’s basketball court, doing at-home workout videos, training with my Dad and looking up different cardio and strength exercises I can do to get my mind and body in the best condition I can before I head out to Oregon. But I think, in the end, it will make us all stronger, for we wouldn’t be given the battle if we weren’t tough enough to endure the pain.”
Another group of talented student athletes, taking the hand they have been dealt and trying to make the best of it.