BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
As the spring season that wasn’t came to a close, Clarkston Athletics Director Jeff Kosin and Clarkston Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Brian Kaminskas reflected on the impact.
“We lost a lot of great players from the 2019 season, that’s not a secret,” said Kaminskas. “Everybody knows that. We had our guys for really three days – two tryouts and one full practice. Before we knew what was officially going to happen, we had a coaches meeting and it was known in the room we were going to be stronger than we were last year. Our offense was going to be more powerful this year. It’s really a testament to what the guys did in the off season because they had big shoes to fill. Our defense was going to be strong. We didn’t get a chance to show it off except to ourselves for a day. I do think we would have been extremely strong. I think it’s a shame these guys didn’t get a chance to see it for themselves.”
As student-athletes took a break from competing and working with their teammates, Clarkston Athletics was proud of how many handled their spring season being cancelled due to the Coronavirus and stay at home orders.
“For the most part, our kids have been very positive,”said Kosin. “They were very resilient and they have taken it with a grain of salt knowing there’s nothing they can do. I am not going to say they are okay with it because it has impacted kids some more than others. You look at some of the kids and this was their year. Senior year was their year to be the leader of the team. For some it was a chance to play with their brother or their sister on the same team, on a varsity team. Our kids, as always, I am extremely proud of them. They never cease to amaze with what we need to overcome. I think that’s what makes our kids so special.”
Kaminskas added the ten seniors never expressed feeling cheated not having their last season.
“We held Zoom meetings and sent texts. It’s easier when you are young to say ‘woe is me.’ It would have been easy for those guys as seniors to complain – certainly entitled to feel cheated. But our guys never expressed that,” he said. “I know a lot of them missed it, and I know that from talking with their parents. When we got on those meetings and were texting, it was nothing but upbeat things and good things. Especially in March, it’s dark, it’s cold and you’re stuck in your house, and you’ve got these 18-year-old young men saying, ‘keep your head up, it is what it is, look forward to the next day we are together again, we are playing, we are laughing.’ That’s a huge message. I give them a lot of credit for that.”
Kosin added the break was tough on the coaches.
“Our coaches missed being coaches,” he said. “Getting a year off gives them a chance to charge the batteries and get back to it. Not one of them is saying this is good for me. All of them are feeling horrible for the kids, but even in their own situation they want to be doing what they love doing and that’s being with our kids and coaching our kids. I think our coaches will be better from this situation as well. They will improve and learn from it, and when opportunity strikes go after it.”
Spring coaches posted workouts online for their student-athletes to keep them active during the down time.
“It’s for your use,” said Kaminskas. “At some point we are going to get back together, work out and go from there. I thought it was a good thing we did as coaches and put it out there. If nothing else, it gives the kids some direction to stay healthy and get in a physical workout.”
“Our kids deserve that,” Kosin added. “Our coaches would rather be there with them constantly giving those kids an opportunity to get better. Even our trainers posted weekly challenges and stuff about nutrition. Even though we were away from the kids, we were still entangled in their lives making sure if there was an avenue the kids were struggling, they could always contact their coaches.”
An impact missing having the spring season cancelled and the early end to the winter season can lead to positive motivation.
“I think we have taken things for granted, just even as human beings,” said Kosin. “I think by moving through this it will make our athletes, whether it be fall, winter, spring, work harder. Give them something to drive and push for. Again, when you have something you want so bad and it’s taken away from you, it gives you motivation. Not to say they weren’t motivated, but again if you take something for granted maybe you don’t work as hard because you know it’s expected, you know you are going to play on Friday.
“It will give the kids more drive because you never know,” he added. “Again it’s the unknown that makes it more special. I think it will give our kids more drive. They will work harder knowing any moment I could only have three years and not my senior year. Seize the moment, if nothing else.”
“I am hoping we are back to normal. As long as kids are back in classrooms, I think we are going to be okay,” added Kaminskas. “Off season workouts and like that might be interrupted, but they will be interrupted for everybody. We will all be on an equal playing field.”
He pointed out the incoming seniors will be stepping into leadership roles without a year of preparation they usually have.
“We are expecting our eighth graders to step in as freshman and that’s an entirely different level of play going into JV with no preparation and training,” he said, adding especially since some use the summer lacrosse camps offered by Clarkston Community Education to prepare. “It will be an interesting challenge for coaches. Now doing it on a very condensed calendar. That will definitely have an effect.”
Kaminskas added it will impact the future from recruiting and college aspects for all athletics. For example, in mid-May, Central Michigan University announced it was discontinuing its men’s track and field program, and Furman University cancelled its baseball and men’s lacrosse programs.
“When Central cancels their track and field program like they did, you’ve got 40-50 athletes that might go do track and field someplace else which pushes the scholarships down,” Kaminskas explained. “Seniors return for one more year of eligibility, that pushes scholarships away. Scholarships and the ability to play for colleges or even talk to scouts will be limited the next 4-5 years. It will have a bigger impact than anything on our high school students that want to play in college.”
He added he has talked to college coaches and some are looking at doing regional recruiting.
“Colleges aren’t traveling hundreds of miles across the country to watch students perform,” Kaminskas said. “They are going to stay local because it’s not in the budget and they lost staff.”
BY WENDI REARDON PRICE