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Wednesday, April 8, 2020: Spring hopes fading but sections not giving up

   Leading off today: The executive directors of the Long Island sections of the NYSPHSAA aren't ready to throw in the towel on spring high school sports. Tom Combs of Section 11 and Pat Pizzarelli of Section 8 say Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decree that schools will remain closed through at least April 28 doesn't mean there can't be school sports by some time in May.

   "If we can come back in the beginning of May, we are fine," Combs said. "Even the middle of May is OK. I don't know all the answers, but I'd say if we come back June 1, we're done."    Said Pizzarelli: "It's a waiting game now and you try to plan out for different scenarios. The state championships were scheduled to go through June. Baseball has doubleheaders, so you could play four games a week for four weeks and that's 16 [conference] games."

   Most spring sports require six practices before competition begins, though baseball requires 10.

   What might a modified season look like? In baseball, Suffolk Class AA teams might play two-game series against league opponents instead of the normal three to trim the regular season from 18 to 12 games. If state tournaments are not held and with Regents exams canceled, sections could extend the regular seasons and playoffs into late June.

   LuHi's Slater steps down: Rich Slater has stepped down after 12 seasons at Long Island Lutheran and four girls Federation championships. Slater rolled up a 234-58 record despite demanding schedules.

   Slater cited a convergence of circumstances as influencing his decision. Among them were the death last week of Joe Lewinger, the athletic director at The Mary Louis Academy, and the leukemia treatment that LuHi assistant Taylor Kenney has been going through.

   "I think everything going on now with the coronavirus humbled me because I saw Joe Lewinger lose his life and I have two friends in the ICU right now and while I still love coaching, and will coach again, I just felt it was time," Slater said.

   Slater, who coached previously at East Meadow and Locust Valley, spoke to school administrators Monday and had a team meeting online last night to inform his players of his decision.

   "Most people leave a job for a job but I'm leaving a job for no job," Slater said, laughing. "I have so many unforgettable memories though and that's what means the most to me."

    • John Jay Cross River hockey coach Alex Smith says he is retiring from coaching and teaching this spring. Smith, 57, was the first coach in the program's history and won 185 games since 1999.

   During his tenure, JCR won Section 1 championships in 2013, 2018 and 2019.

   "It's going to be really hard to replace him. What he brings to the table is huge," said assistant coach Joe Posadas, who's also leaving.

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   Too much sad news of late: As mentioned earlier, athletic director Joe Lewinger of The Mary Louis Academy died last week at the age of 42. His coronavirus-related death came just days after the pandemic also claimed the lift of assistant basketball coach Dave Edwards.

   Lewinger, whose teams won Federation basketball championships in 2002 and 2007, had stepped away from coaching in 2012 as this young twins, Madison and Jack, continued cancer treatments. Lewinger had served on the Franklin Square Union Free School District school board since 2015.

   Edwards was a dynamic point guard at Andrew Jackson High in the PSAL and played college ball at Georgetown and Texas A&M.

  






    • Archbishop Molloy cross country and track coach Brother Bob Andrews died Tuesday. He retired from teaching in 2015 after 40 years at Molloy but continued coaching. His Stanners teams captured more than 75 Brooklyn/Queens Catholic sectional championships.

    • Longtime Cleveland Hill track coach Anthony Percival died Tuesday at the age of 59. Percival was a three-sport star at Cleveland Hill and returned to coach there from 1983-2010. His teams were 193-32 with 13 undefeated seasons.

   Percival also coached JV football and JV and varsity girls basketball.

    • Retired Section 5 Executive Director Ted Woods died March 29 at the age of 88. Woods began his teaching career in 1956 and was the first athletic director at North Rose-Wolcott. Along the way he coached baseball, basketball, soccer and track and served as a Section 5 administrator.

   "He was an icon in the fields of coaching," said longtime NR-W boys soccer coach Scotty Martin. "He was the guy people turned to when they needed a bit of wisdom. He was certainly a voice of reason, a man of wisdom when it came to the inner workings of scholastic athletic programs in the state."

   To pay or not to pay: The Buffalo News recently tackled a question I had wondered about almost immediately after the coronavirus pandemic caused officials to begin closing schools late this winter: Do coaches still get paid for a spring season that quite possibly will not take place?

   As noted by the paper, coaches may be hired to work for a specific season, but many of them devote considerable time to the job throughout the school year and even the summer.

   The paper found that some schools are paying coaches during the shutdown while others are not. Others that pay a lump sum at the end of the season have not made a decision.

   Buffalo Public Schools, North Tonawanda and Williamsville aren't paying coaches during the stoppage, though North Tonawanda and Williamsville coaches will be compensated for the days they conducted practices in early March.

   Starpoint is paying its coaches in recognition of the work already put in to prepare for spring sports beyond what is spelled out in contracts.

   "I'm very blessed to work in a great district," Starpoint baseball coach Tim Racey said. "Our teachers and coaches are always going above and beyond what our contract says we have to do. Right now our focus is on our families, our students and their families."

   St. Joe's AD Brian Anken said compensating coaches is an ongoing discussion.


  
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  • 4/23: Boys all-state basketball (large schools)
  • 4/22: Westhill hoops star dies in crash
  • 4/16: Boys all-state basketball (small schools)
  • 4/8: LuHi girls coach Slater steps down
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