LYNN HAVEN, FL (WJHG/WECP) These are certainly tough times for area softball coaches, though they continue to work for their student athletes in a variety of ways. Josh Vandergrift, the head coach of the Mosley softball team is a good example of that.
Mosley softball coach doing what it takes to stay connected with his players
He and his Dolphins were 9 games into their season when things were shut down by the COVID-10 outbreak.
The Dolphins had just won two straight, and things were looking up for the squad. Coach Vandergrift tells me he's doing his best to keep up with all his players, some are in his virtual classes, so he communicates with them five days a week. The others he tries to connect with two or three times a week, making sure they're keeping up with their school work.
And also doing what they can to stay active, and in decent shape in terms of softball!
"We put so much work into it, all during the offseason and then starting in January and getting ready really for this month because this is the month of the home stretch of the season. The end of this month is normally when you have the district tournament. We put all that emphasis on all the work leading up to this point. And when that's taken away you don't want them falling off when we get the go ahead to maybe play again you have to build it back up."
Josh says all this is particularly tough on is 7 seniors, who just don't know if they will ever suit up in the Mosley colors again.
"With you know, just playing just 9 games it just breaks my heart for them. Everybody else in the program, they'll be coming back. You just hurt for those seniors because they don't get a senior night. They don't play in a district tournament. And all the work that they put in and it might not happen. They might not get the state playoffs. They don't get the prom, they don't get the grad bash, they might not get graduation."
Coach telling me they are clinging to the idea of the games resuming at some point, and perhaps even playing into June. So that is some sliver of hope.
In the meantime coach Vandergrift is spending at least part of these days out on the softball field at Moley. Working on a variety of projects needing to be done still in the wake of the damage done by the hurricane.
All that work says the coach, even a bit of therapy for him
"You know small little projects around the field, maintaining the outfield, the infield, making sure it doesn't get weed and mole cricket infested, just things like that. Yeah it is kind of like a little therapy to get out of the house, get some fresh air . Go out there by myself, just put my airpods in and kind of work for about three hours and come back home."
I asked coach how much he misses being on the field with the girls, he said very much. This past weekend he went out of his way to show the team how much he cares about them.
"Me and my booster club president (Summer Hoewt) got together and we made all of the varsity (players) Easter baskets. And we actually dropped them off, we went to their houses, dropped them off at their house. We put a roll of toilet paper in there, some hand sanitizer and some candy that we had in the concession stand, that we were just going to get rid of. I would knock on the door and stay about six feet away. We surprised every one of the girls. And they were all surprised on Saturday. It took about three hours, we drove all around Bay County."
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