Coaches navigate through difficult seasons


Tom Hayes

Boys basketball coach Don Carlisle sports a mask during a game at Beech Grove earlier this week.

staff report

There is a new aspect of coaching a high school sport — or any level sport for that matter — that is making the 2020-21 winter athletic season even more challenging than usual.

“The biggest challenge is the unknown,” veteran girls basketball coach Stan Benge said. “Not knowing if there will be a game or season. Also no team get togetherness, wearing masks, making sure Covid forms get filled out, and separating JV and varsity teams.”

Those are all things that Benge didn’t have to worry about in his previous 26 seasons coaching girls high school basketball.

His Lady Giants missed two weeks of the season back in November when they were exposed to an opponent who had Covid symptoms. His junior varsity team also had to sit for two weeks and all his players had to quarantine during summer workouts due to exposure.
“The biggest lesson is appreciate today because you do not know what tomorrow will bring,” Benge said. “Nothing is guaranteed.”
Jordan Knudsen has felt the same way with his wrestling team. He has had various wrestlers miss parts of the season but his team has mostly stayed safe.
“I have learned to be extremely flexible and knowing anything and everything can and will happen at some point,” Knudsen said. “I try not to get too excited or too deflated. I try to keep my emotions balanced because things can shift on a dime.”
The wrestling season is two weeks away from the state tournament starting while Benge has his girls at 11-4 with five games remaining before sectionals, which will be hosted here this year.
Our boys basketball team has advanced to the Final Four of the Marion County tourney and will take on Warren Central Friday night at Southport with the winning advancing to Saturday’s championship game. Our Giants are 5-6 and lost to Warren Central 61-51 back in mid-December.
Our swim team hosts a meet Saturday at 10 a.m. with the girls two weeks away from sectionals and the boys a month away.
While coaches have had to constantly remind their athletes of Covid protocols, they also have had to deal with the varying ways schools are reacting to the pandemic.
” I think everyone is doing the best job they can to make sure we are getting through our season,” Knudsen said.
Benge agrees, but wishes for more consistency.
“The protocols are well meaning but inconsistent throughout the state,” he said.
Knudsen just focuses on what he can do.
“I’m just trying to help the kids understand that they have to take care of their bodies and keep their circles small,” Knudsen said.