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When You Think You've Seen It All

03/13/2020, 8:30pm CDT
By Bob Tomlinson

Frightening, discouraging, it's been a tough week for millions

Just about the time a person thinks they’ve seen it all, the roof caves in.

The past few weeks have been highly educational for the entire planet. I now know a lot about novel viruses and even more about the sixth one the world now knows about -- COVID-19. I’ve now seen and heard how a tiny, microscopic organism can take control of a civilization that got bamboozled  by all the advances we’ve made through the last 102 years. 

Now in our fastpitch world, we as coaches and players in this state feel like somebody has knocked us down and keeps kicking us. 

I have chatted with many fastpitch friends today. There are a lot of thoughts and ideas out there. However, trying to plan anything before the powers consider all their choices and ultimately make a decision planning anything is being very presumptuous. Taking liberties before one knows the parameters that the rulers hand down could and probably should  cause problems one doesn’t want to deal with. My only choice is take whatever comes our way and trust that the leaders on a global, national, state and local level make decisions that are the right ones because I have no clue right now what right would be. 

If this high school softball season does get underway it would be the 42nd one I have been a part of. Never in any of my wildest thoughts or dreams did I ever even imagine what has taken place late this week.

From a personal standpoint I have been constantly reminding myself that I, at 69 and soon to be 70 years old fall into that most vulnerable population when it comes to contracting COVID-19. I must keep reminding myself that the roster of players that are on the Poynette softball team range in age from 15 to 18. They can harbor the deadly virus and perhaps not even show any symptoms. Some will be leaving for other parts of the country, the continent and to far, far away places in the world. This thing is a global pandemic. I, myself have a respiratory issue. I carry an inhaler with me everywhere I go. To handle the same softballs, bats, handrails, door knobs and more to be honest with you is a scary thought. I ceased going into town each morning for coffee, a donut and conversation with a group of men older than I am. On Wednesday when a couple of those fellas were coughing, sneezing and wiping their faces on their sleeves I rose out of my chair and headed out. On my way out the lady who manages the BP station where we meet, and was a student of mine from 1973-1977 was wiping down the door handles, the counter and everything that might hold a pathogen. As I walked past her she said, “I just have to keep this place sanitized. I can not afford to get sick and be off work.”

“I get it,” was my reply.

It’s Friday evening right now. At this time I have no idea what our school district’s plan is. I believe they have been preparing for at home learning and not taking time off. Poynette’s spring break is the week of March 23-27. Our softball program has never taken a spring break trip to warmer climate. I can’t imagine what must be happening at the schools whose spring sports teams have made all the travel arrangements, raised the funds only to now be caught in a Catch 22. I feel for them and at the same time think about the reasons why we have never taken off to practice and play in warmer climates. If the season had started on March 9th our girls would have been on our field practicing and taking part in an intra-squad game. Our fields dry out as fast as the best of them. 

My brother who served in the Navy once told me that being in the military is a “hurry up and wait” thing. I’ve come to understand that there are many more areas of one’s life that fit into that cliche. This weekend will be about “hurry up and wait.” 

I always teach that “Hope is not a plan.” I tell my athletes and friends who I hear say, “I hope so,” that the difference between Hope and Faith -  is a plan. We have a plan to succeed and we have faith that it will lead us to where we want to wind up. However, right now, on this night and this weekend, I’m not sure that the word faith (complete trust according to Merriam Webster’s Desk Dictionary) works for any of us. I can’t plan anything until we know what the rules are. 

Earlier this evening I talked with a great friend I met through this sport. He has been coaching for 26 years and has been to the state tournament a number of times but fell just short. At the end of our conversation he said it all about how he feels tonight. “Bob, I’ve waited 27 years for a group of girls like the one we have here this year.”

I’m sure than those words ring true for a great number of you reading this. 

I can’t imagine anything ever happening that could be as disrupting as this pandemic is at this moment. But then again, I realize that a person really has never seen it all. 

Here is to looking forward.

Keep it Rising!



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