Mike Sheppard, Jr. like his coaching brethren is certainly not used to the current state of being as the 2020 baseball season remains very much in jeopardy because of the coronavirus impacting our country and especially the New York-Ne Jersey Metropolitan area.
But, while he still remains hopeful that he’ll be able to have his 34th season in 2020 as the head coach at Seton Hall Prep, Shep, Jr. also realizes that if there is any type of season at this point, the powers-that-be will have to be both careful and creative.
“I just hope, if we are able to have some type of season, that they (the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) doesn’t rush us to get into playing games too soon,” said the veteran Pirates head diamond mentor. “I really believe that as a time frame you’re going to need a minimum of two weeks in our sport to get guys ready to play again, including getting pitching arms acclimated to any type of work load at this point.
“I know that when everything stopped earlier in March we had our kids up to around 30 pitches and now that’s all been lost and you’re going to have to build up arm strength again.
“Also, if we are able to have any type of season this year, I hear it could include once around the league (Super Essex Conference-American Division), no GNT (Greater Newark Tournament) and then have everyone in the state tournament.
“I think it’s food for thought and would be great if they could extend the season to around June 30; and, even after graduations and proms or whatever the kids would be able to do socially, and then there would be a more relaxed atmosphere for the final couple of weeks of the season in June plus with the good weather and the chance to have a state tournament, it could really add to what we might be able to have as a revised but still possible 2020 season.
“That is, of course, if we are even able to come back at all, and no one knows right now what is ultimately going to happen as far as schools being able to reopen at this point.
“We live in an area of the country where the virus has really hit hard and that’s also a huge part of this. Most of all we have to be safe and do what’s best for everyone as a country as we hopefully get through this very challenging time!”
While he continues to converse with players, Shep Jr. says that the most important factor at this point is to try and remain positive and do the best one can do while continuing studies and trying to stay in some type of decent physical condition.
“I send out group texts mainly to see how everyone is doing while dealing with ‘remote’ learning via the computer and internet since staying healthy and keeping up with one’s class work are most important at this point,” he said. “As far as any baseball work, there are only very limited ways that our players can do much.
“Most of all, I want everyone to stay calm and simply realize that there is nothing we can do other than following the guidelines of our state and federal government while maintaining safe space between people and trying to stay positive.”