Rutherford coach helps players cope with shortened season

SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - There are certainly a lot of young men and women in our area feeling the sting of Monday's news from the FHSAA after the governing body of high school athletics called an end to all spring sports.

The Rutherford baseball and softball teams put out their own version of midnight madness Sunday night and into Monday morning.

Rutherford coach Jamie Bukowski's Rams were off to a 4-1 start by the time they played their last game, a 7-0 win over Dothan back on March 10th. Nine seniors won't have a chance for closure.

"I guess it's all one of those things that we all knew was probably going to happen," Bukowski said. "You always hold out hope that it's not going to happen, that we were going to get some kind of chance to get back on the field. Once the Governor decided that school's were going to be out for the rest of the school year, then it was a foregone conclusion. It's just heartbreaking."

As for his first contact with the players since hearing the news, that too was tough.

"I sent a message to them all first of all, telling them how sorry I was for them, especially for the nine seniors, telling them that it's tough to have your career end like this and be the last time you put on a Rutherford uniform. You always want to have those memories as you grow older, looking back, that it's one of those things that you'll always remember what happened. I can remember my last at bat, I can remember my last game twenty years ago. These kids, they'll have that, but they're not gonna have the closure for it."

The first year coach went on to say even though he'd only been around these seniors for a short while, he wants to have a bond with them forever.

"I told them I will always be here for them. When you're the coach of a player, you're basically their coach for life. So I told them if they ever need anything, obviously I'll be there, just pick up the phone. For these juniors and these younger players, I basically told them we started something good here and I think we owe it to these seniors that couldn't continue on what we started building here. We owe it to them to play each game like it's their last game and have each at bat like it's their last at bat."

Bukowski said he's hopeful there will be some form of summer ball for these players to take part in, but for now that's up in the air.

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