High school gyms around the state are empty and silent, while thousands of students interact in the hallways and classrooms of those same high schools.
The irony isn’t lost on Timpanogos boys basketball coach Israel Ingle.
“So many things with COVID don’t make sense,” Ingle said.
Basketball and wrestling were to hold team tryouts on Monday, but Governor Gary Herbert’s directives Sunday night paused all high school activities other than state championships for two weeks.
Most schools scheduled their first basketball games for Nov. 24. Now tryouts won’t even take place until Nov. 23 at the earliest.
Coaches are obviously frustrated and want answers on COVID-19 testing, practice dates and scheduling.
“We were scheduled to play in the UVU Classic, which had been moved to Pleasant Grove,” Ingle said. “It will be difficult to reschedule that tournament because teams have other games. We’d like at least a week of practice before we play any games.”
Ingle said players trickled into his classroom all day asking about what comes next. He sent a text to his players and emailed the parents in his program to let them know tryouts had been cancelled. He still doesn’t know how testing will be handled.
“We had a state coaches meeting on Saturday,” Ingle said. “The Utah High School Activities Association said they were confident we would have tryouts. Then we find out less than 24 hours before tryouts that we couldn’t have them. It was insane.”
The ripple effect moves beyond just Ingle, his coaching staff and his players. He was fielding calls Monday from youth basketball programs that are associated with the program about cancelling practices and games.
“The hardest thing is we saw how fall sports went,” Ingle said. “We were paying close attention to volleyball. Football and soccer are outdoor sports but volleyball is similar to us. They had some cancellations but made them up on weekend. They made it through the season and we thought we were good.”
Since spring sports were shut down last year, Ingle has had sporadic contact with his young team. He returns one of the state’s top players in 6-foot-6 senior guard Jackson Holcombe but there are plenty of new players in his program this season.
“Since school started, it’s been kind of tough,” he said. “Timpanogos went to a hybrid schedule so half the alphabet goes one day and the other half the next. I’d get eight kids one day for my basketball class, then eight completely different kids the next. It’s not positional so we were limited in what we can do. I think this will be the least prepared I’ve ever been for a season since I started coaching.”
Ingle said they’ve done a few open gyms and some conditioning during basketball class. The T-Wolves played in one fall tournament where they normally play in several.
“I never know who will play,” he said. “One Saturday tournament, I found out on Friday that two of my guys had to be quaratined.”
Ingle’s brother, Tony Jr., is a high school coach in Georgia. Israel Ingle said in that state the center jump has been discontinued to limit contact. The visiting team takes first possession.
Everyone is making adjustments as the coronavirus takes its toll.
“If you had told me a year ago that we would all have to wear masks and everything was being cancelled because of a virus, I never would have thought that was possible in a million years,” Israel Ingle said. “We’ve had to shut down everything. We can’t even really get into our locker room and we can’t have open gyms. I’m so sad for the players. My heart breaks for them.”