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Column

Going forward on the diamonds

“You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.”

Or softball.

I love the Dennis Quaid movie “The Rookie” based on the MLB career of pitcher Jimmy Morris with Tampa Bay and that was a quote from the movie.

Monday was big for Iowa high school baseball and softball teams. Their long, long offseason of uncertainty because of the coronavirus health crisis finally came to an end on June 1 and the teams opened a shortened 2020 season on Monday.

No, COVID-19 is not gone. For a safe and successful high school season on the ball diamonds everyone has to be responsible in their actions. There are health guidelines about social distancing and sanitizing the players, coaches, umpires, fans and even media members need to follow.

“You could tell our kids were just happy to play the game,” Newton head baseball coach Dustin Brisel said after Monday’s opener.

I’m guessing that was the feeling for all high school athletes as they got to step between the lines and play ball. Iowa is the first state to have high school competition following the pandemic lockdown the whole country endured in March, April and May.

Iowa and the nation is re-opening but the coronavirus is still a real threat. Several teams across the state have had to have players self-quarantine and games canceled because of contact with someone testing positive for the virus.

If you don’t feel well, stay home. That goes for players, coaches, fans and anyone involved with the summer sports.

At the Newton News, we have a new normal — publishing only twice a week instead of five days. I have to switch to the mentality of my days working on a weekly newspaper in Kansas. Games played Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday go in Friday’s newspaper and games played Thursday, Friday and Saturday go in Tuesday’s paper.

Space limitations in the two Newton News also will determine our coverage in the newspapers. Newton High games will be in and we’ll attempt to do roundups of the other area teams as space and information allows.

The plan is to write full game stories and put on our NDN website each night or early morning. If the first few days of the season has shown me anything, this will be a challenge at times. We have to rely on game statistics online at VarsityBound (formerly QuikStats Iowa) provided by coaches. We will put full stories up as is possible.

Wednesday was my first day out to cover games. I was so glad to be covering sports again. It’s been a long time for this old sports reporter. I’ve never had to go through such a long layoff in my 40 years of this profession.

Last weekend, I should have begun my eighth season of covering auto racing at Iowa Speedway. But all the NASCAR races at the Newton racetrack were canceled for the 2020 season, which included the Wide Opening Weekend.

IndyCar is still on the racing schedule at Iowa Speedway. The NTT IndyCar Series has a doubleheader set for July 17-18. We will see how things progress. IndyCar and NASCAR are back racing with no fans in the stands.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets

at jsheets@newtondailynews.com

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