Roosevelt football and track coach Joe Vito.

Roosevelt football and track coach Joe Vito. Credit: James Escher

Joe Vito said, "It’s a different kind of hurdle" if you will.

Without minimizing the urgency of the matter, Vito gathered all of his track athletes at Roosevelt High School, and told them late Thursday afternoon that the spring sports season was postponed by the school's administration until April 20.

“We were on the track, almost finished with practice, and our athletic director came over to share the news,” said Vito, who has coached track at the high school for 20 years. “Our guys were very disappointed, they were distraught. We’re back and building something special here in Roosevelt with a very young core of runners. And it’s something they take so much pride in. I have to make everyone understand the seriousness of the situation and give them a plan moving forward — of what to do.”

A message went out on the Roosevelt Union Free School District website from Eva Demyen, the acting superintendent of schools, that read in part that due to the recent escalating events surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the district has canceled all out-of-state trips and all after-school programs, activities, including sports beginning March 13 through Monday, April 20.

According to Vito, Gary Gregory, the director of athletics for the Roosevelt School District, broke the news to the baseball team and coach Will Stiles before making his way over to his team.

“He spoke to the teams individually,” Vito said. “I told my guys to get together on their own and to do their running, so they don’t lose anything they’ve been working on. Mr. Gregory told us that the day we get back from spring break we can resume practices and after-school activities.

“We know the decision is in the best interests of students health and safety. We’re really just starting to build momentum in the track program again and we have a lot of freshman and sophomores and it’s exciting. They’ll have to follow the workouts we’ll give them and do it on their own. They’ve already put together a team phone chat to communicate their plans.”

Vito, who has also been the football coach at Roosevelt for the past 26 years, said he’s also been in touch with his football players.

“I have to find a gym for our football guys to work out,” he said. “Our school gym is closed.”

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