WNY Athletics

Playing the waiting game

As the abbreviated fall sports season comes to a close, winter sports athletes and coaches anxiously await word on the fate of their own season. When that word will come is anyone’s guess.

While the state originally moved the start date for winter sports back to November 30, there is no confirmation yet that the season will begin on that date. Section VI has informed coaches via email that guidance will be coming by the end of the week.

“It’s tough because we’re preparing for a season that we may not have,” said Brocton boys basketball coach Collin Mulcahy. “This makes it difficult when you’re trying to encourage guys to attend open gyms and things like that. Every day I’m asked if we’re going to have a season and I’m left a ‘maybe.’… I’m remaining hopeful.”

This is a familiar position to many across the state of New York. Back in the spring when the pandemic first impacted high school sports across the state, athletes and coaches held out hope for weeks on end until they finally heard there would be no season after all. Winter athletes and coaches remain hopeful for a different outcome.

“It’s tough waiting. … We’d rather know sooner than later,” said Fredonia boys basketball coach Nick Bertrando. “Fingers crossed we’re going to have a season. We just hope it doesn’t get pulled in the 11th hour.”

Bertrando and Mulcahy both say their teams have been able to practice on a limited basis while following state guidelines.

“Meeting a couple times a week, doing some shooting drills … from a social and mental standpoint, it’s nice to get face to face interaction,” said Bertrando.

Still, it’s another reminder what a tough year this has been for teams across the state.

“It’s trying,” said Bertrando. “You want to get in the gym with your guys and get ready. Especially without summer leagues or camps during the off-season, you want to be ready for the start of the season, if there is one.”

Bertrando also highlighted the missed opportunities this year has been filled with already, not only in terms of preparing his team for the upcoming season in hopes of a third straight postseason trip to Buffalo State College, but also in terms of rooting for his multi-sport athletes like Nick Whitfield and Tyler Putney, who both also play football. Whitfield and Putney both are expected to return this season as the top two scorers on the Hillbillies basketball team from a year ago.

“Every fall you enjoy getting to watch your athletes play other sports. Now you don’t get to watch your athletes play,” said Bertrando. “Not having football this fall and thinking you have the opportunity to work with them full time, it just hasn’t been that way.”

Until a decision is made, athletes and coaches all across the state await guidance on what will or will not be this winter season. Hopefully the waiting game will eventually end and the actual games on the court can resume, as soon as it’s deemed safe to do so. Until then, we wait.


Pics Courtesy of Braden Carmen

Feature Image – Fredonia boys basketball coach Nick Bertrando

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