Brentwood Academy coach Chandler Ganick holds team meetings on Zoom now instead of the dugout.
Grace Christian Academy’s Brad Myers posts daily videos each morning.
Brentwood’s Bill Moore still mows the grass on the Bruins’ baseball field, hoping the season will resume.
That’s what it’s like coaching baseball in Williamson County during the coronavirus pandemic.
The TSSAA suspended the season through April 24 due to the virus, following a recommendation from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.
“To be honest, it’s been therapy for me,” Moore said of his ground-crew responsibilities. “It’s strange, but not just for our season but I’m sure everybody else. I mean, life is on hold for everybody, not just sports.”
Moore is disappointed about the suspension, but understands that it had to be done for public safety.
“We’re healthy and we’re just inconvenienced a little bit right now,” Moore said. “Those health professionals, you just can’t say enough about anyone in that industry right now and what they’re having to deal with.”
The TSSAA initially suspended the season through Tuesday before adding 24 days to the delay due to the spread of the virus. Players naturally wonder when or if the season will continue.
“All we’re telling them is the honest truth that we don’t know what’s going to happen and I think that’s what’s hard for everybody, players and coaches,” Moore said. “There’s so much unknown in this. This thing has changed in the last few weeks more than I thought.”
Moore told the players to be ready, try to toss on their own, so if the TSSAA gives the all-clear sign they can resume. That’s all he can do. The field isn’t open to the Bruins, so the players are on their own.
April 24 is a week before the District 11-AAA tournament was originally scheduled to start so if the season resumes it may last much longer than normal, maybe even June.
“But things have got to drastically improve for that to be a reality,” Moore said.
The NBA and the NHL suspended their seasons and the Southeastern Conference canceled all spring sports, including baseball.
“Schools canceling graduation, colleges going online – there’s not a lot of hope to cling to for our chances to happen,” Moore said. “But, to the TSSAA’s credit, they have not said the word cancel yet. Not only us, but the (Division I) basketball tournament, too.”
Brentwood was off to a 1-2 start before the season was suspended on March 13, Friday the 13th, of course.
Moore feels the worst for his nine seniors.
“That’s what makes this whole sitting out tough is because of those kids,” Moore said.
Bruins’ top players
Infielder Jack Rando, a Belmont signee, has started for four seasons, including the 2017 state-champion team when he was a freshman.
Brentwood’s Michael Finch, an MIT signee, “might be one of the most underrated hitters to come through our district,” Moore said.
Matthew Batts, Lee signee
Catcher Will Laughlin, a Maryville signee, tore his ACL during football season, but might be able to play baseball this month.
Junior Cade Granzow, pitcher-third baseman, Auburn commit.
Brentwood Academy (1-1)
BA coach Chandler Ganick says baseball season is a lot like Christmas.
“You have this whole buildup to it and you plan for it and prep for it,” Ganick said. “The kids have so much anticipation and excitement. Each season is new for everyone and these last couple of weeks leading up to the shutdown were so fun because all that hard work was finally paying off.”
Then the season was suddenly suspended and the team’s spring trip to the Gulf Shores Classic was canceled.
“It’s definitely one of those things where you get blindsided and it’s tough,” Ganick said. “It’s definitely a weird feeling right now.”
Ganick teaches his math class online now instead of the classroom in this new world of social distancing.
“In my 16 years of coaching, I’ve never coached from a distance where I couldn’t be around players,” Ganick said. “This is probably the world’s longest dead period, it feels like.”
Ganick encourages the Eagles, telling them that there is still a season to be resumed and not to get frustrated.
He said the Zoom meetings are refreshing because he gets to see the players’ faces on video and vice versa. The team and coaches also have a group text message to stay in touch.
“Community is such a big deal and when you’re talking about being isolated, and not getting to have that one-on-one time with each other, you need that,” Ganick said. “So that’s a big push for me to them. Don’t just rely on text messages and the general social media. You need to be face to face with your friends, you need to see them in their eyes whether through a computer screen or not it’s still better than nothing.”
Gov. Lee’s mandatory stay-at-home order to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus has given Ganick more family time.
“We actually just had a baby, my third kid, on Feb. 5, so this is the most my family has ever seen me in the month of March because I’m never around because of baseball season,” Ganick said. “So I’m trying to soak some of that in, playing with the kids and making them breakfast and stuff we don’t ever get to do.”
Ganick and his wife put up an inflatable bounce house in their den and a slip and slide so their kids, ages 5, 2 and 6 weeks, are having a ball.
“To them, it’s just more time with mom and dad,” Ganick said. “I hope they’ll remember that spring that dad was home a whole lot instead of the spring that everybody was freaking out.”
The pandemic hit close to home for Ganick when one of his friends was diagnosed with the virus in March.
“He had to spend a day or two in the hospital and he’s fine and healthy and better,” Ganick said. He’s a healthy 30-something year-old man and it put him in the hospital, so it’s real.”
There have been 2,845 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 32 deaths in Tennessee.
BA has a young team, including three freshmen starters on opening day against GCA.
“We are bottom heavy,” Ganick said.
Eagles’ top players
Taylor Montiel, pitcher, junior, Mississippi State commit, Perfect Game preseason All-American candidate, 85 mph fastball
Tyler Finley, outfield, senior
Joseph Battaglia, LHP, junior
Cougars coach Rob Baughman and his family have been packing bags of food once a week for OneGenAway, a non-profit organization, for families in need in Williamson County.
“I think (Tuesday) we packed almost 250 bags of food that they’ll take out to the community because the kids aren’t eating,” Baughman said. “Some of them aren’t working right now for whatever reasons and it really puts things in perspective.”
Some families are more in need now with parents unable to work during stay-at-home orders due to virus.
Baughman only works with his family so they can practice social distancing.
His nephew works for J.P. Morgan in New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.
“It’s just like a ghost town, it’s unbelievable,” Baughman said. “He’s been staying in his apartment. When he does go outside, he can’t believe how empty and quiet it is.”
One of Baughman’s former stars, Tony Kemp, returned home from spring training with Oakland after opening day was pushed back due to the pandemic.
“He was having a great spring training,” Baughman said. “He and I talked a little bit and the way it was looking he was getting the opportunity be their starting second baseman. He’s working out and doing his thing at home.”
Cougars’ top players
Alec Beaman, shortstop-pitcher, Tennessee-Martin signee, four-year starter
Brayden Woods, senior, Wittenberg commit
Raptors coach Danny Borne communicates with his team through a daily group text, encouraging his players to work out on their own and trying to keep their spirits up.
“Most of them have weights at home or purchased things throughout to where they can lift on their own,” Borne said. “The biggest thing is pitching and working their baseball skills the best they can with what they have at their house.”
There have been 244,826 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,059 deaths in the U.S.
“The No. 1 thing is the safety of everyone,” Borne said. “You don’t want to put anybody at risk until they can get this thing on hold.”
Raptors’ top players
Shane Craig, pitcher, Tennessee Tech signee
Brian Garcia, center fielder, pitcher, 1-0
Lawson Evans, right fielder, pitcher, .364
Ben Severance, junior, .727, Division I prospect
Spartans coach Chad Kirby sends out weekly email updates to his players.
“It seems like every day there’s some sort of stay at home getting extended,” Kirby said. “We’re healthy and nobody has the COVID or anything like that. If the worst thing that happens to us is we miss some baseball games, we should consider ourselves fortunate with what you see on the news, people losing their lives.”
Spartans’ top players
Blake Money, pitcher, LSU signee, 1-0, leading team in hitting
Cole Hendrix, pitcher, senior
Coaching during the pandemic has given GCA coach Brad Myers a different perspective.
“It kind of changes the way you look at things,” Myers said. “There is a lot of suffering going on, but it also makes you thankful for your family and your school. I did a little devotional for my guys (Wednesday) morning on gratitude and if you’re grateful it’s hard to be unhappy.”
There have been 1,015,403 confirmed coronavirus cases and 53,030 deaths worldwide.
GCA students have also switched to online classes and the players are doing workouts at home. Some players are playing catch with their brothers or dads.
“I’ve spent more time around the supper table with my family than ever before, especially in the spring, and that’s been a great thing,” said Myers, who’s doing track workouts with his daughters. “(Tuesday) night (President Donald) Trump said there could be 100,000-200,000 (U.S.) deaths --- that was pretty sobering.”
Lions’ top players
Kitch Cash, Trevecca signee, shortstop
Blake Barton, Belmont signee, catcher
Ty Davidson, pitcher, senior